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Polk State graduate gets opportunity in military cybersecurity

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For Polk State College graduate Laura Jordan, a little advice from an academic advisor went a long way.

In June, 28-year-old Jordan will travel to Texas for basic military training as she enlists in the US Air Force. By late 2022 or early 2023, it will provide vital military service in cybersecurity.

“There are a lot of upsides,” Jordan said. “It’s really a great opportunity for me.”

Jordan received his Associate of Science degree in August 2021 after completing the Network Systems Engineering Technology program at Polk State. When she started at Polk State in 2017, Jordan was working full time in a retirement community and wasn’t sure what she wanted to do.

She spoke with Niqui Young-Pringle-Brown, Polk State professor of education and former department coordinator and senior faculty member at College Success on the Winter Haven campus. Young-Pringle-Brown introduced Jordan to the Career Coach Assessment and the My Career Shines service, which ultimately led her to a new career path.

“I saw it as a great opportunity because there aren’t many women working in (information technology),” she said. “The Network Systems program offered many online courses. Working full time was really beneficial for me.

May is military appreciation month. According to the US government, there are currently more than 1.4 million active duty members of the US military. Less than 15% are women.

Originally from Colombia, Jordan moved to the United States to be with his mother, Margarita Pulgarin, in 2016. Before coming to the United States, Jordan earned an associate’s degree in international business in Colombia and studied Mandarin in China. She is fluent in English, Chinese and Spanish.

“During his studies, I was always impressed with his desire to develop his computer skills and people skills, as well as his dedication and dedication to his classes,” said Johnny Stewart, professor and program director for network systems engineering technology. “Laura has always shown ambition and maturity in the classroom.”

For his success, Jordan credited Stewart and Matina Wagner, Polk State’s internship and experiential learning coordinator. Before she made the decision to join the military, they helped Jordan land an IT internship with South State Bank when it merged with CenterState Bank.

“I was looking for hands-on experience,” she said. “I wanted to have the opportunity to have a job after I graduated.”

As a cybersecurity officer, Jordan will help protect military systems and the country from cyberattacks. According to the US government, the US Department of Defense spent nearly $10 billion on cybersecurity in fiscal year 2020.

Jordan plans to serve four years in the Air Force and then reassess whether he should continue to serve. Whatever path she chooses, Stewart has no doubt that she will succeed.

“She is genuinely interested in developing her skills and challenging her abilities, while also being a great role model for her peers,” he said. “I’ve often said that if I could clone Laura, I would never have to worry about solving staffing issues again. She’s a really gifted student.”

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