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Designed for Action: Cybersecurity Student’s Real-World Project Also Helped Him Land a Job

August 01, 2022
John Clegg in regalia

At York College, students aren’t just reading textbooks and listening to lectures. They’re working on community projects, solving real-world problems, and using their education to effect change. In Designed for Action, we meet the students who are making an impact outside of the classroom.

For John Clegg ’22, research isn’t just another component of his education. It’s what helped him land his job as a Network Security Engineer at IT Edge. “I’m enjoying every day,” he says.

Clegg, who is from Malvern, PA, won second place with his research project, “Cybersecurity in Investment Banking,” in the Graham School of Business’ Annual Research Showcase in 2022. It was this very project that helped Clegg secure his current job.

Discovering new passions

Clegg wasn’t initially considering Cybersecurity Management. But he quickly found that his current major wasn’t a good fit for him.

“I was a struggling Computer Science student that knew how to code, but wasn't motivated,” he says.

It was COVID that pushed Clegg to make the switch to Cybersecurity Management.

“During COVID there was a huge push for making money while stuck at home, and that’s where I learned about investing. I then saw the huge GameStop stock jump and was hooked on the reasons why something can do that.”

Assistant Professor of Cybersecurity and Business Administration Dr. Tamara Schwartz, who was one of Clegg’s faculty mentors, helped him travel in a new direction.

“With the help of Dr. Schwartz, I was able to find my passion for cybersecurity, even though it would take me an extra year,” he says.

Passions turn to exploration

It was during Clegg’s Senior Seminar class, in which students were required to write a thesis paper on a project that interested them and relate it to cybersecurity, that he discovered investment banks.

“I realized that there was a lot of potential for hackers to steal money from these banks,” Clegg says. With the aid of his other faculty mentors, Dr. Pawan Madhogarhia, who is Chair of the Department of Accounting, Finance and Business Analytics, and Dr. James Norrie, Professor of Management, Marketing and Entrepreneurship, Clegg was able to narrow the focus of his paper.

“The project is about how much investment banks should invest in cybersecurity, and if they over or underinvest, why?” Clegg explains. “By taking an already established model called the Gordon-Loeb Model, I was able to take financial data from companies and determine if they were under or over allocating.”

Dr. Schwartz nominated Clegg for the research showcase, where he won second place and a cash prize.

Moving forward

Clegg highly values the education and training he received while at York College.

“All my Cybersecurity classes with Dr. Norrie gave me so much useful information I am still using today in the cybersecurity field,” he says, specifically noting cybersecurity and cybersecurity law.

Clegg feels the best part of being a Cybersecurity major is being one of the first in the major itself, since the Cybersecurity Management major was launched during Clegg’s first year in 2017, and “starting something not done [at YCP] before.” He also believes his research project was the most influential part of his education.

“The research project allowed me to put what I learned in school into something else I was passionate about,” he says.

Clegg is currently working on publishing his paper. He hopes to bring his career “full circle.”

“My future goals are to make enough money through cybersecurity to live off investing and passive income in my 30s and travel the world,” he explains. “[I] started with investing, then went to cybersecurity and got a job in it, and then will return to investing.”