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Political science major finds opportunity in cyber security

February 13, 2018
Alyssa Bushmire, York College
Alyssa Bushmire ’18 forged her own path, creating an individualized internship with the support of York College professors.

If Alyssa Bushmire’s path at York College of Pennsylvania was a road map, it would show a series of connection points — clear intersections where interest and determination met opportunity.

Every turn toward unknown challenge and opportunity, she took, and each of those turns led her to where she is today.

Changing course

Alyssa transferred to York College as a sophomore. She was looking for smaller classes and the ability to connect one-on-one with her professors.

Right away, she found that at York College.

As a Political Science major, she joined the school’s History and Political Science Student Union. This was where she came upon her first major intersection.

Getting involved

Through the group, Alyssa connected with the York County Republican Committee. She took an internship there and got involved with the York County Young Republicans.

That’s where she found a passion for campaigning.

Putting up signs, helping at the polls, and attending events, Alyssa saw the political process up close for the first time.

“I’d always focused on politics at a federal level,” she says.

But being on the ground, seeing how things worked locally, she found her focus shifting towards state and local government.

That’s when Alyssa came upon her next intersection.

After meeting Rep. Kristen Phillips-Hill at a political event, Alyssa followed up. That led to an internship with the state representative where Alyssa worked on cybersecurity issues — handling constituent questions and helping craft a bill.

Alyssa’s dream job is to work at one of the big intelligence agencies. So, becoming involved in cybersecurity, a topic she was already fascinated by, seemed like a perfect fit.

And just like that, she found herself at her next intersection.

Creating an individualized internship

In fall 2017, Alyssa met with York College Professor Ryan Sanders. He told her about an internship opportunity with the York County Policy Council and helped her craft a proposal to assess cybersecurity in York County.

Alyssa wasn’t just filling the position as the next intern with the York County Policy Council. With the help of Professor Sanders, she was able to craft an internship that fit her interests and the needs of the policy council.

That experience is exactly why she had changed her course, transferring to York College as a sophomore.

“That one-on-one connection made it so much easier for me to be successful,” Alyssa says.

Now, she’ll be working with local government agencies, starting with York city, to assess their current cyber security measures and propose changes to make them more effective.

It’s a big task, Alyssa says, but it’s important.

And she has the support of Professor Sanders, who meets with her weekly, making sure she’s heading in the right direction.

“We’re doing research like Pew or Brookings would do at a think tank,” she says.

Impacting the community

If her recommendations are taken up, Alyssa’s work could impact agencies across the county.

Effecting change has been the driving force behind her decision at every intersection on her map.

Whether it is through politics, cybersecurity, or some other yet-to-be-known path, Alyssa wants to make a difference.

She wouldn’t be able to do that without her professors at York College.

“People should know how great the professors are,” Alyssa says. “They are to thank for all of my success here at York.”

One day, she dreams of being an intelligence analyst or linguist for the National Security Agency.

Right now, though, she’s focused local.

She wants to leave an impact on her hometown and effect change in her community, one intersection at a time.

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