Jade Belton knows how vulnerable people and businesses can be to cybercrimes. It’s something the Marymount senior has seen firsthand during an internship with the FBI.
“In the classroom we learn about computer defenses, but it’s amazing to see how vulnerable you can be if those defenses aren’t up,” she says.
Working 20 hours a week with the bureau for nearly two years – first at its Washington, D.C., headquarters and now at a Chantilly branch office – Jade has had cases ranging from business email compromises to website hacking. She’s also a part-time mobile technician for Apple, in addition to being a full-time student!
Enrolled in Marymount’s five-year bachelor’s/master’s degree program in information technology and cybersecurity, Jade earned a National Science Foundation CyberCorps Scholarship for Service, which provides full tuition and other benefits in exchange for a commitment to work in government-related cybersecurity.
“I’m very grateful that at Marymount, hard work pays off,” she says.
Born into a military family, Jade grew up between California and Okinawa, Japan. At first she enrolled in a bigger school but found it hard to concentrate in large classes. At Marymount, she enjoys the smaller setting, one-on-one interaction with professors, and the opportunity provided by Marymount’s access to the nation’s capital.
That’s how she ended up with such a sought-after internship.
“I originally just wanted to do programming,” she says. “Once I got here, I did a little research and found out how rapidly the cybersecurity field is growing. I don’t see that stopping any time soon. The hardest part will be keeping up with the changes.”
Thanks to Marymount, she’s ready for the challenge. Who knows where it will take her?
“Even today I’m constantly surprised by how many options there are in this field,” she says. “I still don’t know for sure what I want to do because something new pops up all the time!”