computer science - college - cyber security

About

Hello! My name is Haya and I’m a college student studying computer science and cyber security. This blog is where I write about my experience pursuing computer science, being a woman in STEM, programming,  and other things relating to technology.  Email me at haya@hayacodes.com!

Here’s an excerpt from my post about how I first got involved with computer science & cyber security:

It was a Khan Academy email that originally planted the idea in my head. 2015, I was a rising 8th grader bored out of my mind during a rather sweltering summer when I saw the words “Hour of Code” flit across my screen as I perused through emails. With quite literally nothing better to do, I decided to give it a try and discovered the wonders of programming. I got halfway through the JavaScript course before school started again, and my interest fading away with the summer heat. However, one thing I was now assured of was that my idea of giving into my parent’s wishes for me to study medicine was now obsolete. In the next few years, I threw myself into exploring STEM: taking classes on video game design and AV arts, becoming head of logistics for our varsity robotics team, joining clubs geared towards girls in STEM, etc.

In 11th grade, I figured out that computer science was what I wanted to pursue after taking AP Computer Science in school. The prior year of learning drag and drop JavaScript was dull, but this new introductory course on Java brought my interest in computer science back to life.  I joined the computer club and participated in programming competitions,  learning new algorithms, and joyfully wracking my brain for solutions to challenges. I even got the opportunity to add a new plaque on my CS teacher’s wall: 1st place, Novice Division. 

Near the end of my junior year,  a Google Classroom message from my teacher flashed on my phone screen. It was a link she had copied and pasted, which took me to this site. SANS Girls Go Cyberstart, is an online training game that teaches girls about cybersecurity, ethical hacking, computer forensics, and so on by having them compete in teams,  doing challenges that teach them cybersecurity principles to collect points. The top 3 teams in your state with the most points move on to a national 48-hour jeopardy style competition for cash prizes.  I was intrigued and asked my teacher to let me start a team for our school. I found 5 girls to meet the requirements, and we played. It was exhilarating in a way, the rush of decoding steganography, SQL injecting, learning to SSH.  We moved onto nationals in May, and I was awarded as one of the top 10 scorers in my state.  

Cybersecurity was something I never considered before,  a whole new subfield of computer science that was still so incredibly vast. I knew computer science was what my future degree would be in, but as for what I’d do with that career, I had not the faintest idea. Software engineer didn’t feel quite right, and coding apps were definitely not the move for me. This competition awarded me more than just a scholarship, it dropped a plausible career path into my lap, one that I’d enjoy.  […] <- Click here to read more

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