MS in Cybersecurity creates opportunities for graduate

Frederick Scholl July 29, 2020

profile on Andre A. Abbott

Andre A. Abbott '08, MS '20, graduated from Quinnipiac in 2008 with a BS in Information Technology. After graduation, he gained experience in a few firms, however, one question kept reverberating in his mind: how is all of this information secured?

Information security is at the forefront of his profession, and as he grew within his field, his curiosity began to heighten. He saw that a master’s degree could open opportunities and fulfill a career goal, and in 2020 Abbott graduated from Quinnipiac with an MS in Cybersecurity.

“Although I do not have a security role at my current company, as I was going through the program, I was able to use what I learned in the classes and propose new concepts at work.

I began to have conversations with managers about security and how theories I learned at QU apply to my company. I want to position myself as a reliable and loyal employee looking to help the company secure their data.”

Abbott goes on to say that, “Security can’t be an afterthought. It has to be baked into the plan.”

Abbott gained knowledge and confidence to not only have insightful conversations with decision makers in his company, but to also contribute in the classroom.

Students in the program have a diverse skill set with different industry experience and expertise which the professors build upon to enhance learning opportunities.

For example, if someone is good at coding, they still need to understand coding as it relates to security, Abbott explains. He found that the collaboration among students was one component of a supportive environment and proved to be a valuable part of this education.

He feels that the program is structured so that you are continually building on a skill set while being exposed to the many opportunities the cybersecurity field offers.

High-profile data breaches, cybercrime and cyber threats have increased and so has spending on information security. According to Grand View Research, “The global cyber security market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 10.0% from 2020 to 2027 to reach USD 326.36 billion by 2027.”

The increased demand to protect these infrastructures is unprecedented, opening up the cybersecurity job market across all industries. Abbott understands the enormity of the opportunities and for now, learning how he can help implement security measures at his current workplace while building on his vast experience is important to him.

Even though information technology and cybersecurity are on the forefront of Abbott’s agenda, he does like to have fun! He visited Japan in 2019 where he studied at Samurai dojo and was fully immersed in Japanese culture.

In the photo shown, Abbott cuts through bamboo stalks with a Samurai Sword to prove to his sensei that his form is acceptable and he can move to the next discipline. He also learned and practiced many key principles on the path of Bushido (The Way of the Warrior).

Abbott minored in Japanese, so this was a particularly special trip. In addition to traveling, Abbott visits Quinnipiac to take in the beauty of the campus and reflect on how far he has come.

Q & A

Would you share a brief narrative of your background?

I was born in Jamaica and came to the US when I was four years old. My parents worked hard to make sure that I focused the best I could on school and had fun at the same time — so I did.

I’m an avid football (proper football) fan and traveled around Europe for a while playing where I was introduced to other cultures. I love anime, jazz, building computers and good pasta salad.

Why did you choose Quinnipiac?

I wanted to follow in my mom's footsteps. She holds multiple degrees from Quinnipiac, and I visited the campus many times while in high school — I liked the vibe.

What is one piece of personal security advice you would give someone who is reading this article?

Make sure your passwords are complex, not easily guessed and are not the same across multiple platforms. Whenever possible make sure to enable 2-factor authentication on all important accounts.

What is your top reason for choosing a degree in cybersecurity?

Current climate and trends as well as a genuine love for the discipline motivate me.

What is the most interesting/inspiring/compelling thing you have learned to-date?

I learned that even though there have been exponential strides in security automation, false positives still exist and bots can never truly take the place of human experience and intuition.

What class have you enjoyed the most? Why?

CYB550 Cyber Policy. It was my first introduction to cybersecurity from a bureaucrat prospect. All the software and applications to protect the network are cool, but if these baselines and guidelines aren't followed- the technology serves no point.

Who were your favorite professors?

Dr. Frederick Scholl has guided me through the program and helped with all aspects. Harry Long is a professor with high standards, and he pushes his students to get the best work out of them.

His classes were the most challenging but in a positive way. I was able to personally meet one of my professors, William Wilder, and attend Microsoft Security Sessions at MIT. I got a feel for what some of industry leaders are doing in Cybersecurity.

How has this program prepared you for a successful career in your chosen field?

The program has introduced me to the language, the intensity and the diversity of the discipline. The course work is very similar to certain job descriptions I have read. Once I decide where in the field I would like to focus, I feel confident I have a great foundation.

The MS in Cybersecurity program provided Abbott with the professional skills needed to advance his career and seek opportunities. The hands-on training and development of technical skills that he has received will help him contribute to a company’s security defense team to prevent, detect and counter sophisticated cyber-attacks.

Learn more about how Quinnipiac’s online MS in Cybersecurity program can help you move forward with your career.

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