By: Diane Stirling
An Army major who has spent 12 years in the United States military, including two extended deployments in Iraq, and whose next duty station is the U.S. Defense Information System Agency, has been awarded the Syracuse University Army Scholarship for the School of Information Studies.
The SIGCEN scholarship for 2012-2013 is being presented to Maj. Richard M. Cruz Jr., who is undertaking both a Certificate of Advanced Studies (CAS) in Information Security as well as the Information Management Executive Master’s program.
Born and raised in Guam, Cruz earned his bachelor’s degree in computer science from the University of Guam through the Army ROTC program. He then entered military service as a second lieutenant, where his first field assignment was as a platoon leader responsible for 898 soldiers and $2-3 million in equipment. His charge was to establish an information backbone in an desert environment, where no systems previously existed.
Major Cruz’s most recent work has been as a knowledge manager for U.S. Army Pacific, providing network and server management and user support. The assignment covers service for 36 countries from America’s West Coast to India. Currently stationed in Hawaii, he and his family will be moving to Fort Gordon, GA soon, where he will attend a four-month program at the U.S. Army Signal Center, Leader College for Information Technology. After that, his next duty station will be at Fort Meade, MD, where he will be serving at the Defense Information System Agency.
Cruz has approached his academic progression with significant planning in order to build the credentials he hopes will result in continued advancement within a long military career. His educational plan began with his grandfather’s encouragement of higher education. “My grandfather always urged me to get my education; he said it’s something no one can take away from you,” he recalled.
His objectives now include earning the academic credentials he has “always wanted”: the industry CIO certification, as offered through the iSchool’s Executive Education master’s program; and an Information Management master’s degree. With those academic credentials added to his many years of leadership experience, Cruz says he hopes to be well-positioned to achieve his future goals. “I have a very strong experience base, but I definitely think that the SU program will help level the playing field,” he suggested. He is hoping to be able to work in the area of cybersecurity.
“Our new warfront is the cyberwar, and we’ve to be prepared and understand it,” Cruz observed.
The iSchool’s online programs were appealing and the flexible online format made it feasible to fit courses in around his Army schedule, Cruz said. Originally, he “didn’t even think I’d do my master’s; I thought I wouldn’t have the time. But Syracuse is such a reputable school that when I was able to get this program online and still stay in without breaking my experience and exposure, I said I definitely will go to SU.”
The scholarship was an important factor financially, too, since Cruz is saving his post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to be used by his children. He and his wife (who also is taking college courses online), have a six-year-old and a six-month old. He said the baby’s birth prompted him to apply for the scholarship a second time, and this year, he was selected to receive it.
The School of Information Studies scholarship is open to an officer enrolled in the information management master’s or executive master’s programs, or the master’s of science in telecommunications and network management. It provides an opportunity for officers who have completed courses at SIGCEN as information systems managers or telecommunication engineers to transfer credits that will go toward their master’s programs at the School. Army students can transfer 9 to 15 credits from SIGCEN and be able to complete the remaining master's degree requirements online.