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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.”

In her own words

Melissa Strong, 28, came to Tidewater Community College to train for a career. Two years later, she is a systems and network engineer with General Dynamics Information Technology earning three times more than before college.

Before TCC

“I was working as a receptionist in a salon and spa, and I was always hunting for things to fix on the computer. I’ve always enjoyed technology, but it was not something I was encouraged to pursue.

“One of my coworkers encouraged me to go to TCC and take core IT classes until I figured out what I wanted to do.”

Why TCC?

“I really had no expectations going in. I took a virtualization course, and that led me to the cyber security program and Professor Rob Guess. After my first class, I was hooked. What I like best about cyber is that there are many different ways to apply what you are learning. It’s constantly changing and you have to keep learning and apply yourself.”

What are you doing with you Associate of Applied Science in Information Systems Technology

“My degree was IT and I also have a certificate in cyber security. I now work as a systems and network engineer with General Dynamics Information Technology. My education at TCC prepared me to pass the exams necessary to get my job, including the A+ and Security+ certifications. I absolutely love the work I’m doing and the traveling that goes with the position.

“I’m earning three times what I made at the salon. I bought a little place in Norfolk with three bedrooms and a bath and a half. I love living on my own and enjoy cooking when I’m at home. I’m also driving a new-to-me car, a 2016 Toyota Corolla.”

Favorite professors?

“I connected with Professor Guess. He helped me get my job and was a knowledgeable and helpful teacher. Another favorite was Joel Kirch, the faculty advisor for the cyber club. He helped our group do a national cyber league competition.”

While at TCC?

“I volunteered with Computers for Student Success, where we fixed computers and then gave them to students who needed them. I absolutely loved the hands-on work combined with helping others.”

What’s next?

“I’m working on my bachelor’s in information technology from Western Governors University. I’d ultimately like to develop secure applications. What I love about this field is that there are many different ways to apply what you are learning. If you are working in one area, you can change directions easily.”

Best advice for students

“Definitely take advantage of the teachers and use them as resources. They have invaluable life and work experience and are willing to share that knowledge with students.”


Navy veteran on the road to success with cyber security degree

When Navy veteran Shawn Goodwin retires from his 9-to-5 job in 13 years, he and wife Karen plan to hit the open road in their RV to see small-town America. “We want to travel all over the U.S. and see landmarks, beaches, mountains, streams and everything but the big cities,” he said.

Thanks to earning his associate degree from Tidewater Community College in December, he’ll have the income to support his travels. His Associate of Science in Information Systems Technology with a concentration in Cyber Security will enable him to do cybersecurity work while he’s on the go.

“I see myself working sporadically during the day as required, to keep an income stream with enough to fund our adventures,” he said.

A self-described computer nerd, Goodwin, 42, was a Senior Chief electronics technician when he retired from the Navy. He served 20 years and completed tours around the globe and a stint in Antarctica supporting the National Science Foundation.

“That was my favorite tour!” he said. “I provided tech support for the portable and high-frequency radios used to communicate around the continent.”

After the military, Goodwin found work as an information technology program manager for Navy contractors. He enrolled at TCC because of the quality of the cyber security program with its designation as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense by the National Security Agency.

“TCC fit my work schedule,” he said. “The flexibility of the classes and the adult learners in class with me at night made it an excellent experience.”

Goodwin meshed well with his cyber professors, particularly Rob Guess, director of cyber security, who he calls a super nerd. “I’m about his age, and I just get him. He’s extremely smart and knows his stuff.”

Using his GI Bill, Goodman earned his TCC degree debt-free.

The father of three children, Goodwin is encouraging his youngest to enroll at TCC. “I see kids struggling with classes and I encourage them to keep their minds on their studies.”

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