Cyberattacks are a frequent threat to individuals and corporations. Almost everything that takes place connects to the Internet in some way. To ensure that people are able to safely connect and do business online, UTSA is preparing the next generation of cyber security professionals.
Chris Parafinczuk enrolled at UTSA to learn how to develop secure cyber infrastructure. He will cross the stage this month, having achieved his long-time dream of graduating with his Bachelor of Business Administration in Cyber Security.
“I chose to pursue a degree in cyber security because I recognize there is a great need for understanding how to develop secure systems to protect our country’s infrastructure,” said Parafinczuk. “I have a strong desire to learn more about computer vulnerabilities and how to defend against attacks that exploit those vulnerabilities.”
Parafinczuk says he received strong support from his professors at UTSA.
“They have helped me gain a deeper understanding of programming, exposed me to a plethora of cyber security technologies and taught me the intricacies of system security,” he said.
Last summer, the UTSA undergraduate had the opportunity to participate in an internship with the IT Security Department at Hightower Advisors, which specializes in providing investment advice to clients, wealth management services and financial planning services.
“I especially enjoyed learning about a variety of software and activities that I had never been exposed to,” Parafinczuk said. “I enjoyed the hands-on work and got a taste of the actual business world.”
Parafinczuk recounts his journey at UTSA as a personal growth experience.
“My time at the university has taught me so much about developing strong, meaningful relationships that highlighted my interest in learning and sharpened my interpersonal and time management skills,” he said.
He says that his internship experience helped him realize the impact cyber students can have on a company.
“At one point, I was scanning for system and network vulnerabilities for offices located in New York, Texas and California,” he said. “I am confident that my work as an intern made a meaningful difference at Hightower.”
Parafinczuk also gained leadership skills as an athletic competitor. As a freshman, he had the opportunity to play the defense man position and compete in the Lacrosse Conference Championship.
“The team made a comeback from a large deficit to win the game, scoring at the last second with a limited roster,” he said. “It was a very rewarding game that taught me the importance of good sportsmanship and to never give up no matter the odds.”
He added, “Our lacrosse coach, Matthew Lundy, played a pivotal role in the development of my leadership skills. From the very first season of my freshman year, he expected me to step up and lead and instruct the team, especially the less experienced players.”
Following graduation, Parafinczuk hopes to land a job as a cyber security analyst at a large company such as Amazon, Google or Tesla where he can build a career and grow with the company.