LUMBERTON — With data breaches and ransomware attacks expected to increase in 2023, IT experts are in high demand.
For Kristy Blue, cybersecurity is the number one priority. It’s her passion and that’s why she chose to study Information Technology at Robeson Community College.
“Ever since I was little, I’ve loved computers,” Blue said, “what interests me is preventing people from hacking into databases and protecting personal data.”
Blue’s love and interest in the field of cybersecurity was recently recognized by Microsoft. She received a $500 scholarship from the Microsoft Cybersecurity Scholarship program.
“Getting this scholarship was absolutely amazing,” said Blue, “I’ve always loved Microsoft and I’m so excited to get a scholarship from them.”
According to Cybersecurity Ventures, cybercrimes and the need for digitalized businesses and consumers to guard against such crimes will drive spending on cybersecurity products and services to $1.75 trillion.
This is one of the many reasons why Microsoft launched its cybersecurity jobs campaign and scholarship program in 2021. The campaign aims to train the next generation of cyber advocates, like Blue.
To qualify for the scholarship, Blue says, “You need to know networking, programming, and coding, and have some knowledge of cybersecurity, routing, and firewall software.”
But Blue’s expertise goes far beyond that.
“I’m certified in Microsoft Word, Powerpoint, Excel and Access,” she said. “I achieved all this thanks to the computer program of the RCC.”
Blue is an alumnus of the RCC. She earned two associate degrees in applied science from the college. In 2019, she graduated from the Office Administration and Office Finance program, and in 2021, she obtained a degree in computer science. In May 2023, she will receive her third associate degree, this one also in computer science but with a concentration in gaming and simulation.
“RCC has been great, it’s like family,” Blue said, “They help you when you need it and they cheer you on.”
Regarding the computer science degree, Blue says, “It’s a great program, especially if you like computers and routing. This is a great opportunity for anyone to enter.
She adds: “I love the staff and the teachers.”
As part of her RCC training, Blue was able to participate in an internship at Emerging Technologies, Inc. in Red Springs.
“It was an amazing experience,” Blue said. “I helped the military with a web page that they used in the field with a Raspberry Pi so they could create different radio signals and collect facial recognition from drones.”
“We were able to help the military build what they needed, and they let us test it with them,” Blue said.
Raspberry Pi boards are incredibly versatile tiny computers that have been put to an increasing number of practical, fun, and diverse uses by hobbyists. This exceptional flexibility has only been increased over the years by manufacturers offering a plethora of add-ons such as sensors, touchscreens, wireless connectivity modules and purpose-built enclosures.
“It’s like a little mini motherboard,” Blue said.
With Raspberry Pi, Blue says they can be used to modify video games, security systems, and more.
Looking to the future, Blue says she would like to continue her education, earning a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity, as well as a master’s degree that combines her love of cybersecurity with video games and simulation.
“I would like to be a programmer one day,” Blue said. “If I have to move to find a job in my field, I will, but I would like to see if I can find a job working from home.”
Blue says she would be happy to work for Microsoft, Apple or as a contractor for the military.
“You have to follow your dreams,” Blue said, “no matter how old you are, it’s never too late to achieve what you want in life.”
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