#CYPossible: Taylor Schutt, Computer Information Systems and Cybersecurity

Completing coursework calls for celebration, and we are proud to celebrate with Cypress College’s newest degree- and certificate-holders. By achieving these education goals, graduates and certificate-earners are equipped to continue on their college path or find strong footholds in the career fields they’ve chosen. We’ve taken the journey with these outstanding students, and know that when they look to the horizon, they see what is #CYPossible.

Taylor Schutt in front of the pond at Cypress College

Please tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up? What are your interests? What is your story?

I grew up in Orange County and graduated from El Dorado High School. I initially planned on becoming a Marriage and Family Therapist and completed two Associate Degrees in Humanities and Social and Behavioral Sciences from College of the Canyons. After I acquired these degrees, I decided it would be best for me to take a break from school because I wasn’t convinced that I wanted to continue down this particular career path.

Throughout the course of my life, I have worked in numerous industries including teaching, the acting industry, and casino entertainment. In my free time I enjoy playing guitar, playing video games, and maintaining a relationship with my Lord and savior, Jesus Christ.

Why did you choose to attend Cypress College and how did being a student here help you find your first position after completion?

I chose to attend Cypress College after experiencing a cybersecurity incident at one of my former places of employment. One of the employees within our organization ended up downloading a “free” version of Photoshop that contained a worm, which infected every device connected to our WiFi network. The code that was executed from this program would take administrative control over each one of our devices and run scripts in the background which would eventually delete all of our data and render the underlying operating systems as inoperable.

Thankfully, our company already had sufficient backups in place for each one of our devices before this attack occurred. If these backups were not set in place, our company would have suffered tremendous losses and there is a high likelihood that this company would no longer be in business.

This event caused a serious disruption in our ability to continue normal business operations and it took a significant amount of time before we were able to completely wipe and restore each of our devices.

I did not have any formal experience in IT at this time. This event, however, catalyzed my interest in pursuing an IT sector degree, after having a first-hand encounter with the amount of damage and destruction that could be caused to an individual or company that didn’t take the necessary precautions in order to protect themselves against an unexpected cyberattack.

Throughout the course of my education at Cypress College, I managed to acquire multiple industry certificates from CompTIA, Cisco, and Amazon Web Services. These certifications include: A+, ITF+, Security+, CySA+, Amazon Web Services Certified Cloud Practitioner, and the Cisco Certified Support Technician Cybersecurity Certificate. I also managed to acquire the Cybersecurity Certificate and Cyber Defense Certificate from Cypress College upon completion of the Cybersecurity Program with an emphasis in Systems Administration and Technical Support. Completing my degree and the corresponding certificates provided me with the foundational knowledge and credentials that were required for me to enter the cybersecurity industry.

Taylor Schutt in front of the Business Education building at Cypress College

What were you involved in at Cypress College? How did your path unfold and who were the faculty and staff who have helped you along that path?

Professor Russ Alizadeh asked if I would be interested in becoming a tutor after I completed several courses under his instruction, and he has been an invaluable source of support and inspiration throughout my time at Cypress College. I have tutored for several Computer Information Systems classes since then via Zoom and in-person including: CIS190, CIS195, CIS196, and CIS 230. Ben Izadi and Miguel Flores were also tremendous sources of support and guidance throughout the courses that I tutored for Cypress College. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the assistance that these extraordinary individuals provided to me along the way.

What did you pursue after completing your studies at Cypress College (at your transfer institution, in the workforce, etc.) and where are you now?

A few months ago, I was presented with the opportunity to participate in a cybersecurity internship with CENIC and I have recently been offered a full-time position within the organization as a Cybersecurity Administrator. CENIC stands for the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California and provides the underlying infrastructure for high-speed data availability for K-12 institutions, community colleges, and universities across California. Our corporation also provides these school districts with services to defend against Distributed Denial of Service attacks. I was also recently accepted into WGU’s Accelerated Information Technology Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree Program, and I intend on continuing my education for the foreseeable future.

What are your long-term goals? What do you aspire to?

I intend on obtaining my master’s degree in cybersecurity and acquiring as much knowledge as possible over the next several years within the IT industry. I aspire to become an established member of the cybersecurity community and to receive the opportunity to share the knowledge that I am able to gain over the years with as many individuals as possible.

What are you most passionate about? Why?

I am incredibly passionate about the IT industry and all of the ways that technology will be able to enhance and improve the quality of our lives. Technology will continue to integrate itself with every aspect of our society over the next several decades and I believe that it is incredibly important to stay as up to date with technology as possible since advancements in technology will inevitably continue to evolve at an exponential rate.

What are you most proud of?

I’m most proud of the fact that I decided to go back to school to complete my degree in cybersecurity. I put in as much effort as possible to apply myself when I returned to school and managed to maintain a 4.0 GPA throughout the course of my classes at Cypress College. Obtaining my degree and the corresponding certifications was a tremendous challenge, however, it has been one of the most fulfilling achievements that I have had the privilege to experience.

If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently?

I believe that we are all placed on this earth to grow, develop, and learn from our shared experiences. I would not change anything along the journey that I have experienced so far since my experiences have shaped me into the individual that I am today. Life is too short to dwell in moments of regret, and we must constantly strive to grow and learn from our mistakes in order to become the best version of ourselves that we could possibly hope to become.

What one bit of advice would you give to current and future Cypress College students?

Never give up. There have been many obstacles that I have encountered throughout the course of my life that seemed to be completely insurmountable at the time. Failure is an inevitability on the road to success and consistency will turn an ordinary person into someone that they never thought they could be.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Cypress College has provided me with the resources, support, and knowledge that was required to pursue a degree within the IT industry and I am eternally grateful for the quality of education that this institution provides to its students. Returning to school and finishing my degree has been an incredible and unforgettable experience. Nothing is impossible and we are only limited by our own thoughts and beliefs in terms of how we perceive ourselves and our inherent capabilities. I am extremely grateful for the opportunities that I have been presented with over the past several years and I am eagerly looking forward to seeing what the future has in store.

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