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York College of Pennsylvania Student Finds Community in Cybersecurity Management

Photo of Natilie McCallick

Natilie McCallick’s ’23 academic advisor encouraged her to follow an unexpected career path.

Natilie McCallick '23 doesn't like to stand still. So, the ambitious student chose a York College of Pennsylvania course of study that's constantly evolving.

She originally considered studying Psychology. After she met her academic advisor, Dr. Tamara Schwartz, Assistant Professor of Cybersecurity and Business Administration, during a campus tour, Natilie changed her mind. She learned that cybersecurity isn’t as much about technology as she first thought. It’s about people.

“I'm fascinated by the way things work in the human brain. I wanted to do something that had an effect on other people,” she says.

Learning the program

Natilie explored a major in Cybersecurity Management, where she found her place.

"It's so dynamic," she points out. "I will have a semester where I’ll take history classes, as well as psychology and sociology classes. Then I'll be learning Python (a programming language used to develop websites and software and to conduct data analysis) and databases the next week. Then I'll learn about working in a business setting, then on to criminal law.”

Drawn to the well-rounded courses the major presented, Natilie was intrigued with how keeping an eye on political trends can impact the landscape, sometimes leading to more cybersecurity threats.

The field changes constantly—Natilie says first-year students now take classes that weren’t originally available early in the program—so she keeps up to date with "a lot of reading, a lot of podcasts."

Although Natilie hasn't decided on her specialty, she's leaning toward management, “but I still need to learn a lot of the technical side," she notes.

New minor fits career plans

Natilie started college with a minor in Visual Communications. "Originally, I was using it to build on my experience in digital media, graphics, and design," she says. But she swapped it for Information Dynamics and Decision-Making, which she thinks will prove more useful in her career.

She's taking a class on information warfare, which explores how information is used in the economic, cyber, and political realms across the world, from dissemination to propaganda.

After college, Natilie hopes to land a federal job. "I plan to stick close to the government for employment," she explains. "My goal would likely be to become a chief information security officer." She recently applied for an internship with the FBI.

Finding community in York

Born in Glendale, Arizona, Natilie moved a lot with her military family. She grew up mostly in Gainesville, Virginia, graduating in 2019 from Brentsville District High School.

York College has given Natilie a sense of community that she lacked. "When I was in high school, I wasn't really involved in extracurricular activities much. I just wasn't interested. But at York I've gotten so active...There's always something to do on campus."

Natilie and some of her classmates have worked to bring a chapter of the Order of the Sword and Shield National Honor Society, a fraternity for Cybersecurity Management majors, to campus in spring 2022.

She believes the hands-on program, along with her relationships with faculty and other students, has made all the difference. “I’ve received a real-world experience,” she says. “That was so important to me.”