Frederick Lora worked as a Military Intelligence Officer in the United States Army when he applied for the Department of Defense’s Cyber Scholarship Program. He was sitting in Iraq at a forward operating base contemplating what to do post-deployment when he received a bulletin about the program.
It was the age of the internet, and Lora saw how it impacted everything most people do, both personally and professionally. People could shop, book appointments, find information, and stream media directly from their computers. Even sitting in a forward operating base in Iraq, Lora depended on reliable internet conductivity for his work. He liked the idea of being a network defender to support information technology and data for the Department of Defense. He saw the Cyber Scholarship Program as the first step in building his formal education.
“I thought it would be an excellent opportunity to provide myself with training and education to enter a new and expanding field, not only for the U.S. Army but for the United States and the globe,” says Lora. “It was an opportunity to transition into work I’d never done before.”
Lora was accepted to the Cyber Scholarship Program and started course work with National Defense University (NDU) in Washington DC at Fort McNair. He then transitioned to Syracuse to complete the degree at the iSchool. Lora enjoyed learning at both institutions. At NDU, Lora connected with primarily military personnel, but Syracuse exposed him to faculty and students from across the world, all with different perspectives and values to share.
Lora already knew how vital the internet was in most people’s lives, but working with students from across the globe highlighted how impactful the internet was and the importance of cybersecurity. “One of the highlights was meeting fellow students from all walks of life, all focused on cyberspace and cybersecurity and how it impacted whatever organization they were coming from,” says Lora.
Aside from exposure to a diverse student body, Lora was also thankful for the resources and programs available for veterans at Syracuse. As a nontraditional student, Lora needed assistance readjusting to school while also maintaining a job and family. The flexibility of the program with online courses and summer semesters, plus the dedication from faculty and staff made finishing his degree possible.
“Members of the iSchool faculty and staff helped guide me as a nontraditional student,” says Lora. “It had been a couple of decades since I’d been in this type of program, and they helped me out tremendously. Dr. Park was one of my advisors, and the people in her office were absolutely wonderful in guiding me across the finish line to graduate with Syracuse.”
Lora earned his Master’s in Information Management from the iSchool. He says he regularly applies his education to his current role as a Cyberspace Operations Planner with the U.S Army Cyber Command. And finding an institution that changes its courses with the times, Lora says, is essential and something the iSchool does well.
“The iSchool curriculum is not static by any means. They continue to modify and adjust their curriculum,” says Lora. “There’s a very real possibility that some students take courses in their first year that may not be offered by the time they graduate because things change so rapidly. The iSchool seems to keep up with those changes and can modify its curriculum accordingly. I definitely appreciated that.”
Even after earning his formal degree, Lora continues to find ways to educate himself and grow as a professional in the cyber field. One way is by attending conferences and seminars such as those hosted and sponsored by organizations such as C4ISRNET, AFCEA, and the Association of the United States Army.
“For anyone working in the field of cyber, continuing development, continuing education is the name of the game,” says Lora. “Whether it’s attending conferences and seminars, earning certifications, going back to school, I think it’s important because information technology rapidly changes. And from a defensive perspective, threats are becoming more advanced every day. For myself and a lot of professionals in the field, going back to school, it’s just one of those means to make sure that we maintain our proficiency in this field of science.”