Fostering a future in cybersecurity


“I love working with computers and providing a way to help people by protecting what matters most to them: their information and data.”


Pursuing dreams

To say Heath’s upbringing was challenging is to understate his struggles. From the age of five, Heath was raised in the foster care system, moving from home to home as many as 42 times.

The impact on Heath’s education was substantial and he struggled with depression. But through his struggles, Heath found resilience and an ambition for a better life.

“I lost my brother,” he says, “and my biological family is something I don’t want anything to do with. The only real family I have is my adoptive parent and my biological sister. It occurred to me that I don’t want to be like my family, I want to pursue my own dreams and desires and make it in the world.”

Adopting positivity

After being adopted in 2019, Heath finally had a stable home environment and started to shine academically. “I was a straight-A student through high school, and still in college, with some Bs. I didn't want to sit back and mess up the opportunities I was given,” he says. He adds that the statistics for youth released from—or “aged-out” of—the foster system are dismal. As many as 40 percent experience homelessness before the age of 26, and fewer than half complete secondary education.

Having considered a future as a writer or an air-traffic controller, Heath decided to focus on his love of technology.

“I always enjoyed working with computers and taking them apart to put them back together only to find I missed a few screws! This goes to show that we make mistakes but learn from them,” he says. “Although I missed that screw, I learned that there are steps and processes to take in order to keep track of them.”

Cybersecurity for good

Heath’s interest in technology has subsequently turned to cybersecurity.

“Every day more and more people are put in digitally vulnerable positions when accessing the Web,” says Heath. “I was seeing the elderly exposed to malicious links and fraudulent activity as well as SMS phishing and mail attacks, and I wanted to join something that would enable me to protect people’s online privacy.”

Heath started Cisco Networking Academy courses as part of his degree course. “Cisco's Networking Academy has shed greater light on my academic understanding of cybersecurity and what to expect in this field,” he says.

Advice for Cisco Networking Academy learners

While he found the Cisco Networking Academy coursework challenging, Heath has advice for other learners. “One way to best grasp the many networking concepts is to ask questions and perform real-life scenarios to help understand,” he says, adding that he also found some useful resources online.

“Although the courses are difficult, never give up. There are plenty of people who are willing to help you understand the concepts, from your professors, high school teachers, IT professionals and many others. Always put in your all, do the research, and never give up.”

“As someone who needs hands-on learning, the curriculum and labs are a great source of understanding and unlocking my potential. The course provides a meaningful stepping stone in gaining an understanding of cybersecurity and its fundamentals. The resources that are involved make it completely fun and make you want to learn more. It provided a way for me to understand it better and take notes as I follow, despite having a learning disability.”

“I've found it difficult to stay focused for the majority of the time due to severe ADHD that prevented me from remebering a whole lot,” says Heath. “Despite this, I kept on pushing past that barrier and studied as much as I could to become the best possible version of myself to get the career I've always wanted.”

Future in tech

“After I got into tech, I learned that this might be something I would enjoy doing. And here I am today, doing my best in my studies and getting as much skill, experience, and as much knowledge as I can to make it in life.”

Heath says his story “goes to show that the environment can really change a person, from the people you hang around with to the influences in your life. I wouldn't be here without the help of my adopted father, my grandpa and nana, and my professors and high school teachers.”

“There are many things in life that we just can’t take for granted. We have to follow what makes us happy. Tech might be something that I would love working with and on.”

“I guess you can say that humans have it in them to do so much and fight for what they like doing.”



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