MARIETTA, OHIO— After serving his country in two combat tours in Iraq, U.S. Army Veteran Jeremy McGill ’21, found civilian life lacking purpose. Determined to be a role model for his son, he made a commitment to pursue a college degree. “Now that I’m in the position that I’m in, I feel like I’ve found purpose again, after my time in the military,” McGill said.
McGill originally enrolled at Washington State Community College (WSCC) in 2007, but due to personal obstacles, found it was not the right time for him. He was always keenly interested in Information Technology and realized that in order to pursue his dreams of working in that field, he would need to narrow the scope on his career aspirations.
McGill attended a career fair to learn more about government employment opportunities. He learned from FBI representatives at the presentation that they are seeking candidates with a cyber security focus. “I really had to take a look at myself and see if I was in the right career path, so I ended up re-enrolling at WSCC in the Cyber Security program,” he said. “I was glad to see that Washington State actually offered the programs that I needed and actually wanted to do.”
Returning to the Washington State campus, McGill experienced the diversity of student perspectives as he re-enrolled as an adult learner. “I was attending classes with students that were half my age, but it actually gave me an opportunity to share my experience with them and perhaps my advice even helped point them in the right direction,” he said.
McGill credits his invaluable college experience to many staff and faculty members at Washington State, including those who helped him with his Veteran’s benefits. “It was a relief to know that I didn’t have to stress about my schedule and how I was going to try to pay for my classes,” he said. WSCC embraces adult learners and supports them through their academic experiences with programs such as tutoring, disability services, food pantry availability as well as flexible course options.
The instructor who perhaps made the biggest impact while pursuing his degree was Dr. Adam Beatty, Associate Professor for Information Technology at WSCC. “I thoroughly enjoyed several classes taught by Dr. Beatty, including his cyber computer forensics class,” he mentioned. “His teaching method in these classes were non-traditional and didn’t just come straight from a book, but from real-world experiences that he shared with his students.”
While making the decision to attend Washington State may have ended up being the right one this time around, McGill’s final semester was plagued by COVID-19. While it was challenging, McGill said WSCC provided the support he needed. “I was able to take advantage of some of the funding offered by WSCC, which gave me peace of mind that I could not only manage the cost of college during my last year of school, but I could also still financially take of things at home during these rough times,” he said.
In May 2021, McGill graduated an Associate degree in Cybersecurity and Digital Technology from WSCC. McGill is now currently pursuing an online Bachelors Degree in Cyber Security from the University of Charleston. “I have Dr. Beatty to thank for inspiration to get my Bachelor’s degree. He helped me get in touch with the right people at the University of Charleston.” Jeremy’s projected graduation date is December 2022 and he will then decide whether he will seek employment or pursue a Master’s Degree.
His advice for future students is to go in with an open mind. “Don’t doubt yourself because in the end, you will always somehow surprise yourself with what you can accomplish,” he said.
The field of cyber security and investigation is ever-evolving. Also changing are the needs of those looking to launch careers in the industry. Washington State is proud to pave the way for students to access in-demand jobs upon successfully completing certificate and degree programs.
The Cyber Security & Investigation program at Washington State is a combination of criminal investigation and computer support technology. This program prepares students for a career in cyber security and investigations, and computer network infrastructure & security. Students also learn to manage networks and operating systems and IT criminal investigation. It’s noteworthy to point out that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics lists this field in the top 10 fastest growing occupations anticipated over the next decade.
Learn more at https://www.wscc.edu/academics/business/cyber-security-investigation/.