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“I had an advantage coming to TCC with a degree, but the classes I took there built skills I didn’t have.” – James Read

Meet James Read.

He came to Tidewater Community College as an adult learner with a computer science degree from James Madison University.

After working as a help desk technician, and also doing residential electrical work and home security installations, he wanted more.

“I came to TCC looking for a career transition into cybersecurity. I see this as a national security issue,” Read said. “With Ransomeware attacks on the rise and shutdowns like the Colonial Pipeline and SolarWinds, it’s easy to see the growing need for trained cyber professionals.”

While at TCC, Read earned a Career Studies Certificate in Cyber Security. Thanks to the credits he earned while completing his bachelor’s degree, he is now at work on a master’s in cybersecurity at Old Dominion University.

Read is one of three TCC students to receive the National Science Foundation CyberCorps Scholarship for Service. The scholarship will cover tuition and fees for his master’s degree.

The scholarship includes a generous stipend, book allowance and professional development funds. When he graduates, Read will work in a federal agency doing cyber work for at least three years.

“I definitely had an advantage coming to TCC with a computer science degree, but the classes I took at TCC built skills I didn’t have,” Read said

While at TCC Read was president of the Cybersecurity Club, an organization he also credits for adding to his learning.

“During the pandemic, we went virtual but kept on leaning together. I think being part of the club helped with the transition to online learning,” he added.

“When learning together it’s important to know that you’re not competing with the people around you. You can succeed at your own pace as long as you do the work,” Read said.

Read sends a shoutout to faculty members Joel Kirch and Gregg Tennefoss for the mentoring and hands-on learning they facilitated. He added, “I had so many opportunities at TCC and was pleased with the quality of my cyber education.”

“If not for my experience at TCC, I would not be where I am today”

Tania Golden Beldy has always been interested in criminal justice and the law.

But after the news reported the new doll she bought for her daughter had been hacked, her attention focused on the lack of internet safety laws and how this could affect her family.

“I decided to be part of the solution when I heard consumer safety groups blowing the whistle on these new tech toys as a possible gateway to criminal behavior,” Beldy said.

“My time at TCC completely influenced my decision to pursue cybersecurity law. The courses were well-designed and offered the framework for the work I’m doing,” she said.

Tania Golden Beldy at TCC’s Chesapeake Campus.

Beldy, 52, chose Tidewater Community College because of the positive feedback about the Cyber Security program and the knowledge and experience of the professors.

About TCC’s Cyber Security programs

Since its inception, TCC’s network security/cybersecurity curriculum has been aligned with national standards for cybersecurity established and maintained by the National Institute for Standards and Technology and the National Security Agency (NSA). 

TCC’s is designated as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defensefor Two-Year schools by the NSA and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

For Beldy, her future became clear just two semesters into the program. Having already earned a bachelor’s, she realized after talking to Professor Rob Guess that a master’s in cybersecurity law was the perfect option.

A new beginning in law

Beldy was accepted into the online graduate cybersecurity law program offered through the University of Maryland Frances King Carey School of Law.

“One of the greatest assets TCC offers is their professors. Through the years, I have noticed a decline in genuine interest, access and personal support during the academic experience,” Beldy said. “This was the total opposite at TCC. I felt as though the professors were genuine and personally vested in their students’ successes.  If not for my experience at TCC, I would not be where I am today.”

Beldy, who will complete her master’s this May, works part time at a law firm while completing her capstone project that focuses on legislative advocacy and the legal loopholes that continue to leave users vulnerable.

“Today the internet is available to every person 24/7 with truly no option but to utilize it for daily life. It has become the new ‘wild west,’ where no one is safe,” Beldy said. “Like many other industries such as health care, the internet needs stricter legislation to protect us.”

Ready for a new career

Beldy hopes to work in the field of legislation and public policy with a focus on internet user protections and the responsibility of internet service providers and tech companies. She would also like to work in a corporate setting, acting as a liaison between the tech department and creative teams.

“TCC gave me the technical knowledge and empowered me to move toward a new career,” she said. “My family also provided much needed support, and it has been most rewarding to be able to prove to my children that it’s never too late.”

Beldy and husband Steven have a blended family of eight children, three dogs and a bird. In her free time, she enjoys painting, cooking and gardening.

Cyber specialist on top of hacker threats thanks to classes from TCC

In the fast-paced, nonstop grind of television news, Keith O’Malley is charged with keeping all networks and computer systems operational and safe from hackers.

The director of technology for WVEC, the ABC-affiliate television station in Hampton Roads, credits the information technology classes he’s completed at Tidewater Community College for keeping his skills sharp.

O’Malley, who earned his associate degree years ago in his native Illinois, focused on TCC’s cyber security classes to further his knowledge.

TCC’s Cyber Security Program, designated as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense (CAE2Y) for Two-Year schools (NSA-CAE2Y) by the National Security Agency and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, aligns with national standards.

On the job, O’Malley safeguards files and networks, installs firewalls, creates security plans and monitors activity to prevent cyber attacks from threatening WVEC.

Keith O’Malley in the newsroom at WVEC-TV.

“As a media company, we see threats all the time from multiple directions; it’s like having a target on our backs,” he said.

“I literally took what I learned at TCC and put it into practice at work the next day. Many times I have a computer user who doesn’t know how to explain their issue to me, but with my experience from class, I am able to get to the source of any problem quickly.”

O’Malley credits Professor Rob Guess with keeping the material fresh. “There was definitely never a dull moment in his class!” he said. “He was dynamic, energized and did an amazing job presenting difficult concepts.”

O’Malley, a lifelong learner, plans to continue taking classes at TCC.

“I’m just making sure that I have all of the bases covered,” he said. “In this business, you can never overdo security.”

TCC scholarships help international student stay in school

Nigerian Emeakama Favour came to Tidewater Community College to study cyber security and get a head start on her future. Two scholarships from the college helped pave her way.

This summer, Favour is a camp host for the STEM, Robotics, Mechatronics and Maker camps, sharing knowledge and encouraging youngsters to follow their dreams.

“I came to the U.S. because the education system is one of the world’s best and my family encouraged me to do so,” Favour said.  “So far, it’s been great. I’m adjusting to the culture and learning how things are done here. The toughest thing has been to the cold weather in winter.”

To help pay for college, Favour, 24, received the Mary Ferrell Flickinger and E.C. Wareheim scholarships from TCC.

“These scholarships helped me experience the joy of learning. They covered most of my tuition for one semester and helped me stay in school,” she said.

Favour said she made the right choice coming to TCC because of the small classes and quality professors. “My professors have been very helpful. We’re dealing with real-world issues and using current software,” she said. “It’s amazing to be learning on the same tools that are used in the cyber industry.”

In her free time, Favour writes poetry and hosts a podcast called “Franc Poetry with Favour,” where she shares her work and invites poets from all over the world to share their poems and talk about their cities.

Once she earns her Career Studies Certificate in Cyber Security, Favour hopes to work full time as an IT security professional.

For more information about scholarships opening soon, click here.

ADHD didn’t prevent this student from succeeding. Now she’s helping others overcome disabilities at TCC

Toni Anderson spent the better part of the last decade as a gas station attendant, scraping to get by.

Today at Tidewater Community College, she is on the path to becoming a cybersecurity professional with high earning potential and aspirations of working for the FBI.

“If not for TCC, I’d still be working at 7-Eleven,” Anderson said. “I’m just shocked that I’ve come this far. I never imagined that I’d be a college graduate, but now I’m almost there. It’s really a miracle.”

Anderson is working toward her Associate of Applied Science in Information Systems Technology and Career Studies Certificate in Cyber Security. She plans to graduate this spring.

“I was bouncing around from job to job, living paycheck to paycheck,” Anderson said. “I really wanted a steady job with benefits, and I knew I had to go back to school.”

The 2009 Hickory High graduate applied for admission to TCC several times but never followed through, inhibited by her ADHD. In the summer of 2016, she applied again, determined to begin the journey.

She works closely with the college’s Office of Educational Accessibility and staffer Elisabeth Jakubowski to manage her attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in the classroom.

“Ms. Libby has been a huge help and my emotional support. She’s like family and has been there for me through some major life events,” Anderson said.

“For the first few semesters, I took face-to-face classes and found my professors to be helpful and personable. They never made me feel like a bother even if I asked a lot of questions,” she said.

Anderson credits faculty member Stacy Freeman with guiding her through developmental math, noting that, “She was like a math angel to me. I couldn’t have done it without her.”

Anderson started on the IT path taking just one computer class. As her interest grew, she added more classes and decided to focus on transferring to Old Dominion University to study cybersecurity and cybercrime. She’s also looking into paid summer internships with the Workforce Recruitment Program and the FBI.

“It has been amazing to see the hands-on work pay off. I’m now using what I learned two semesters ago and connecting all of this knowledge together,” she added.

Anderson holds a 3.6 GPA and is a member of Phi Theta Kappa, the honor society for two-year schools. This fall she was awarded the Kathy Camper Commonwealth Legacy Scholarship from the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education. The scholarship covers the bulk of her tuition costs during her last year at TCC.

At the TCC Women’s Center, she participated in Women Inspiring Self-Empowerment (W.I.S.E.) leadership development program, where she paired with mentor Jahnene Thomas, a business intelligence systems engineer for the City of Virginia Beach.

“W.I.S.E. was a definite highlight of my time at TCC,” she said. “Working with my mentor and networking with other professionals was a priceless opportunity and very inspiring.”

Today, Anderson is paying it forward, helping students with disabilities succeed in school. She is a note taker and a volunteer peer mentor who works with first-semester students on the autism spectrum.

A first-generation college student, Anderson said her mom came to TCC to study computers but didn’t graduate.

“My mom is really proud of me, and I’m proud too,” she said. “I never thought I’d be working in an office setting doing this kind of work. I’m living proof that anyone can do this.”

All the way in Alaska, meet the state’s first-ever cyber security apprentice

You’ve heard our expression from here, go anywhere? Ursula Jones is anywhere – i.e., Juneau, Alaska, to be exact. She’s also a Tidewater Community College student who is the first cyber security apprentice in the state of Virginia.

“Apprenticeship is not impossible, even if you live in Timbuktu,” quipped Jones, a Juneau native who works as a cyber security analyst II at Peregrine Technical Solutions LLC, a company based in Yorktown that has employees in every state. “People need to start thinking more outside the box.”

Apprenticeship, an “earn-while-you-learn” approach to education, isn’t just ideal for candidates straight out of high school or in their 20s. After 23 years in federal service, Jones decided she needed a more stimulating job, but she wasn’t excited about racking up student loan debt.

Apprenticeship made the most sense.

As an apprentice, she doesn’t need to worry about debt; in fact, she earns a salary and benefits. Plus, the company foots the bill for her to complete classes online for TCC’s Career Studies Certificate in Cyber Security.

TCC is a National Security Agency Center of Academic Excellence, as designated by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security. The designation recognizes the college as a national model in cyber security. Students who earn the cyber security certificate can apply their credits toward an Associate of Applied Science in Information Technology.

Partnering with the college to create a cyber apprenticeship is an investment in his own workforce, said Peregrine President, Leigh Armistead.

“The task is to assure the confidentially, integrity and availability of information technology assets,” he said. “The apprentice must train and continue to be on top of their game because their adversaries are constantly improving and will be sure to be on top of theirs.”

It’s just the type of challenge Jones wanted. “Changing professions mid-career was a leap of faith and, I have to admit, it made me a little nervous.,” she said. “Leaving a secure career and moving into information technology had its risks, but the rewards have made the career change worth it.”

Cyber security is a booming field with a global shortage of two million cyber security professionals predicted for 2019, according to ISACA, a nonprofit information security advocacy group.

“It is great to have a mid-career candidate as Ursula is unusually efficient due to her ‘can-do’ attitude,” said Armistead, also a member of the TCC Workforce Advisory Board. “She efficiently solves problems, a capability that is at the core of her success.”

Before Jones completes the apprenticeship, ideally in May, she will have completed multiple information technology certifications – each of which will advance her in pay scale.

“No matter what lies ahead, I couldn’t have felt better about my decision to leave federal service and work for Peregrine,” she said.

Contact TCC’s Karen Miller to explore apprenticeship opportunities at