Posted on March 16, 2023 by Rebekah Alegria

Meet Christine Ziese , an undergraduate online cyber security student at the Carlos Alvarez College of Business!

Expected Graduation: 2024

Favorite class, professor or topic you’ve learned about this year?

One of my favorite subjects has been Information Assurance and Security because the labs are hands-on and cover a variety of topics that are pertinent to cyber security. I enjoyed the challenge of my Introduction to Telecommunications class and Unlocking Cyber Security courses. Another subject that was fun for me was Python programming. I continue to build this skill by helping others in my spare time.

My Legal, Social and Ethical Issues course had a great impact on me as well. My professor was very thorough in her explanations, delivery of expectations and focusing the information in a way that was respectful of student’s time and ability to discern the important takeaways. My favorite professors have been Angelica Collazo , John Newsom , Pepe Chang , Kimberly Massaro , and even though she has not been my formal professor, Rita Mitra . Mitra is a mentor whom I think is crucial to my development in this field and as an online student.

What hobbies or interests do you have outside of school?

I enjoy reading, learning new languages, traveling, photography and hiking. I work full time and go to school full time, so I don’t get to take part in many other things, but I like to try to stay as active as possible. I also take my dog for rides in the car.

What is the most memorable experience you have had at UTSA?

As an online student, my experiences vary from a traditional in-person student’s experiences. I have had the ability to make a community of fellow classmates using online platforms available to us. I am a member of the Online Cyber Security Alliance as the Membership and Events Coordinator, which allows me to interact with my classmates and take part in events that build community. I am also a member of Women in Cyber Security, which is also an excellent opportunity to network and collaborate with fellow classmates in my field of study. I am a member of the Gamma Beta Phi Honor Society and work hard to maintain my standing for this academic honor.

What challenges have you faced in your academic journey and how did you overcome them?

It took some flexibility and adjustment to learn how to be an online learner. I received my previous degree over twenty years ago and school is a lot different now, especially with classes that have online Learning Management System platforms. One of the most important things I have learned since my first degree and in the working world is that you can never have enough mentors and enough networking. I try to network in all of my classes, and I am actively looking for mentors and those who need mentorship.

Being able to help others is the true sign of whether you understand something. My favorite quote by Albert Einstein is, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” I firmly believe and live by this example. If I cannot understand the material well enough to explain it simply to someone who has no foundations in that subject matter, I haven’t learned it well enough. I balance working and going to school full-time. I want my grades to be the best that they can be, and I want to make sure I have an excellent foundation of information from my courses. I find that academic tutoring is important to online success as well as reaching out to your professors and actively advocating for yourself.

What do you hope to achieve in your future career?

When people ask me why I want this degree, I say, “I want to make the world a safer place one computer at a time.” I really do believe in the safety and security of our nation and the world for all cyber infrastructures. I have seen the transformation of the computer age throughout my years, and it is imperative that the upcoming professionals in this field have the tenacity, talent and passion to do so. My father was a pioneer in this field, and I want to do something that would make him proud. I think I am on the right track. I am not entirely sure if I want to work in the government or private sector, but I do want to positively impact the safety infrastructure of cyber security.

This is a valuable career field, one that will continue to grow with every technological advance that surfaces. I want to be able to look back one day and share that I was part of the processes and checks that help to make this field safe and secure for the masses.

— Rebekah Alegria