Skip to content

Published: May 03, 2018

Cybersecurity, Forest Service and Youth Development Just a Few Fields Welcoming UT Grads

Forrest Harrison’s interest in both psychology and cybersecurity has inspired his research on memes and mental health and has been the driving force behind his efforts in developing a mental health application for smart devices.

Harrison ’18, a psychology major with a minor in management information systems, wants a career blending these interests, which he’ll cement with a Master of Science in Cybersecurity, a UT program he’ll begin this fall.

“I would like to finish school and work in penetration testing/ethical hacking to combat social engineering, which is the use of deception to manipulate individuals into divulging confidential or personal information that may be used for malicious purposes,” said Harrison, of Bordentown, NJ. “Then after a few years of working, continue my education to get a master’s in mental health counseling, where I can fully integrate the two fields by developing a new therapeutic approach.”

Harrison will join the nearly 1,400 students at UT’s 146th commencement on Saturday, May 5, during two separate ceremonies at the Florida State Fairgrounds Expo Hall.

“UT gave me the resources and opportunities to develop into an interdisciplinary leader. I no longer felt impeded by my environment but was challenged and supported by my professors and mentors,” Harrison said, citing assistant professor of psychology Erica Yuen in particular. “She introduced me to research and made sure that I was an expert in her lab. Then she supported all my ideas to help me develop into a leader with a multitude of intangible skills. Dr. Yuen showed me that I was capable of doing more than I anticipated, which has inspired me to push myself to do amazing things now and in the future with confidence and a smile.”

Both Paige Randazzo ’18 and Bruce Da Silva ’18 are leaving in September for two-year posts with the U.S. Peace Corps. Randazzo, an advertising and public relations major with a creative concentration and a minor in graphic design from Mt. Dora, FL, heads to Peru to start her role as a youth development facilitator. Da Silva, an economics major from Rutherford, NJ, heads to Morocco to be a youth development specialist.

Senior Jay Lawson, an environmental science major from Baltimore, MD, heads to Colorado to start a job as a forest inventory and analysis technician with the Colorado State Forest Service.

“In Colorado and many other states, the state or federal government does forest surveys on a yearly or 10-year basis,” Lawson said. “Plots on both public and private land have to be surveyed to determine long term temporal changes to the landscape and forest ecosystems. Data that I'll be collecting will include things like species composition, forest cover, forest density, tree health and other factors.”

Two cybersecurity graduates, Bethany Russell, of Plymouth, MA, and Patrick Walker, of Indian Rocks Beach, FL, have been offered full time positions in their fields. Walker, who has a minor in business analytics, has been hired as a security analyst with ReliaQuest. He will be analyzing and investigating security related data from a wide range of security devices and customer environments, researching trends and current countermeasures for cybersecurity vulnerabilities, exploits and other malicious activity, and providing analysis based on threat and vulnerability reports, among other things.

“UT’s close connection to the businesses in the Tampa Bay area definitely helped me land this job,” Walker said.

Last year, the cybersecurity club had a tech event hosted at ReliaQuest, an IT security company located near downtown Tampa, which Walker said gave him insight into the company and was a connection he was able to bring up during the interview process. In addition, he said UT's focus on training him for the CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional) certification exam, which he'll take this summer, made him stand out as a candidate.

Russell, also a business analytics minor, heads to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to be a research assistant to work on cyber incident response in the health care industry. She was found on LinkedIn by a research faculty member at MIT.

“Throughout my time at UT, I have learned to be independent. Since UT has so many students that are far away from home, there are extra resources and experiences here that have helped me grow to accomplish more on my own. I will miss the sense of community at UT,” Russell said. “Professionally, UT has given me the tools to succeed in the information and technology field. When I first came to UT, I had not considered a career in technology before, so when I switched my major to cybersecurity my sophomore year, I had a lot of catching up to do. UT's cybersecurity program helped me develop these skills and has now prepared me to enter the working world.”

Between the two commencement ceremonies, there are 1,214 bachelor’s degree candidates and 159 master’s degree candidates — 1,373 in all. For complete details, visit UT’s commencement webpage. Live coverage of the events will also be provided.

Related Stories: