Immigrant domestic violence survivor wins cybersecurity scholarship
NORFOLK, Virginia — A Filipina immigrant domestic violence survivor is among seven students who will make up the first group of Old Dominion University’s (ODU) $3.9 million cybersecurity training program.
Karen Ann Etulle immigrated from the Philippines and after arriving in the United States became a victim of domestic violence and wound up homeless with four children. Her story was featured on WVEC and on Tidewater Community College’s (TCC) website.
Etulle will be among the first group of scholars of “Preparing Future Cybersecurity LeADERS through Applied Learning Experiences” initiative, funded by the National Science Foundation’s CyberCorps Scholarship for Service program.
Etulle wrote an essay, “Braving the Storm,” which is included in Rashatta Daugett’s book Daughters of the Storm, Vol. 1.She’s finishing at TCC and will do co-curricular work at ODU in the upcoming year before enrolling full-time. The grant covers TCC and ODU tuition.
“I am truly humbled and feel so blessed to have been selected for the scholarship,” Etulle said. “Not a lot of people get to have a ‘do-over’ like this.”
She said further: “I will have to admit, there was a time I got so close to giving up, but my children kept me strong. I am glad I stayed positive and kept the faith. I will commit myself to pay it forward to the people and the community who helped us when we had nothing and to our new home country that gave us a second chance at life. I will be forever grateful.”
The project, together with Tidewater Community College and Thomas Nelson Community College, will ultimately prepare 24 cybersecurity scholarship students for careers with the federal government.
They will join Old Dominion University’s LeADERS project, benefiting from cybersecurity programming and support services offered in the Center for High Impact Practices.
The students will be known as Cyber LeADERS Scholars and will receive a full in-state tuition scholarship, an annual stipend ranging from $25,000 (for undergraduate) to $34,000 (for graduate students) and a professional development allowance.
Coordinated support for them will be provided by a case management model with representatives from Career Development Services, the Office of Financial Aid, the Center for Advising Administration and Academic Partnerships, and the Coastal Virginia Center for Cyber Innovation.
As part of the grant, the scholars must complete summer internships with government agencies. After graduation, they will be required to work for the federal government for a specified amount of time, typically equivalent to the number of years they were funded for.
“What is especially significant about this project is that it brings together our strengths in educating cybersecurity professionals, engaging in experiential learning and promoting high-impact practices,” said Brian K. Payne, vice provost for academic affairs, director of the Coastal Virginia Center for Cyber Innovation and principal investigator for the grant.