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Students win SWSIS scholarships

May 24, 2017

Stephanie Plucker

Two DSU students have received awards from Scholarships for Women Studying Information Security (SWSIS).

Stephanie Plucker, an information assurance and computer security graduate student from Parker, S.D., and Ivy Oeltjenbruns, a junior cyber operations major from Hartford, S.D., both received $5,000 scholarships for the 2017-2018 school year. Plucker also won the scholarship in 2016.

Ivy Oeltjenbruns

SWSIS is a partnership of Applied Computer Security Associates (ACSA) and the Computer Research Association-Women (CRA-W), with sponsorship from ACSA, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise (HPE) and Symantec. ACSA has been providing these scholarships since 2011. Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s multi-year financial commitment to the program in the 2014-15 academic year, and Symantec’s addition in 2017 allowed ACSA to increase the number of scholarships, and thereby help increase the number of women in the field.

The information security field is growing and ever-changing, which is what draws both DSU students to the major. “I love the constant changes,” said Plucker. “There is never a time when you won’t be learning something new.” Oeltjenbruns agreed, saying “I can continue to learn even once I am done with school.” Job security is another draw. “There will also always be a need for people who can work in this field,” she added.

The scholarship also offers networking opportunities in the field. “This scholarship gives me the opportunity to connect with other women in the cyber security field,” Oeltjenbruns said. Plucker said “this is important when trying to find our place within the giant field of computer security.”

The scholarship also provides for the awardees to attend the Annual Computer Security Applications Conference (ACSAC) each December.” Attending the conference last year in Los Angeles gave Plucker an opportunity “to spread my wings on my own,” she said, adding, “I went in not knowing anyone, and came out connected with other students and professionals. That was the big confidence boost.”

Because of Dakota State’s small size, students are able to connect one-on-one with professors, which provides “a great opportunity to work with them on projects and research.” Plucker said, “Multiple students here are able to start research projects and find something they are interested in.”

These projects are part of a hands-on curriculum which Oeltjenbruns appreciates. “Our curriculum is challenging and hands-on, so I actually learn from it rather than just breeze through with memorization.”

After graduation, she plans to work in computer forensics with a law enforcement entity. Plucker plans to become a cyber security professor, and will start working on her doctoral degree in the spring of 2018.

More information on the SWSIS scholarship is available at http://cra.org/cra-w/scholarships-and-awards/scholarships/swsis/.