Abeer Asad, (’20)
Creating a culture for undeniably exceptional students is one of the academic hallmarks at the University of Houston College of Technology. A conversation with Abeer Asad reveals reasons why she has been successful.
Abeer Asad graduated from the University of Houston in May 2020 with a B.S. in Computer Information Systems (CIS) and a minor in Technology Leadership and Innovation Management. A recipient of the College of Technology Deans Medal of Academic Excellence in May 2020, she graduated with Summa Cum Laude honors. Asad achieved the College of Technology Dean's List, 2017-2020, was awarded the Chevron Student Scholarship, 2019-2020, and the UH Academic Excellence Scholarship, 2017-2020.
Art Conklin, professor of Computer Information Systems and Information System Security, said “Abeer Asad proved herself as a young leader during her time as an undergraduate student. In addition to mastering classes with an exceptional GPA, she provided much needed leadership and organizational skills to the UH Women in Cybersecurity group, which in turn enhanced the educational opportunities for a large group of students in the CIS program.”
Asad plans to return to UH in fall 2020 to pursue a master’s degree in Cybersecurity.
UHCOT: What attracted you to the College of Technology at UH?
Asad: While exploring majors related to cybersecurity at UH, the CIS program caught my eye as there were opportunities to take electives in cyber. What also caught my eye was the way the degree plan for CIS was structured. Instead of focusing on one aspect of IT, the CIS degree plan allowed us to explore different places in IT as required classes, with electives we choose as our specialization. This way, we had the opportunity to have a holistic IT skill set, with focus on what we are passionate about. Another aspect that attracted me was hearing the hands-on nature of the curriculum.
UHCOT: Why did you choose cybersecurity?
Asad: Throughout high school, I worked on multiple projects that involved coding and software. I realized that I enjoyed working with computers and wanted to go somewhere within that field as I started my college journey. During the time I was choosing my major, hacking had just started to make news. Big companies were getting hacked, and I was intrigued by how that was possible and what could be done to protect against this. After research, I learned about the field of cybersecurity and how my passion for computers, IT, and software could be put to use in helping companies and organizations protect themselves from these hacks and malicious attempts into organizations. As I finished my sophomore year in college, I was blessed to have been accepted as an IT Security Intern at a great organization, which allowed me to gain exposure and experience to the field of cybersecurity, as well as ensured that my passion lies within this field.
UHCOT: What aspects of the CIS degree program helped you to advance in your career plans?
Asad: My degree plan included many classes that required hands-on work and projects that were applicable to the real world. Through these hands-on projects, I was able to gain meaningful industry experience and learned how to combine technical and soft skills with a strategy to complete tasks and ultimately complete projects. I was able to apply this experience to two internships, where I was able to learn new skills, improve my current skill set, and fulfill many duties and responsibilities within the cybersecurity departments of two companies.
UHCOT: What experience have you gained through internships?
Asad: I have had internships at Academy Sports and Outdoors and Tokio Marine HCC as an IT security intern. My roles at each company were aligned with company needs in terms of cybersecurity tasks. At Tokio Marine HCC, I worked with incident response, investigating and resolving security alerts as they came into the company. At Academy Sports + Outdoors, I worked on IT security management tasks including automation of vulnerability management within the company in addition to fine-tuning rules in different security tools. I have accepted a full-time offer with Chevron as a threat monitoring analyst, and am ecstatic to be starting in the fall.
UHCOT: How were you involved as an undergraduate student at UH?
Asad: I have been involved with Women in Cybersecurity (WiCSUH) for nearly two years. I served as a public relations officer before being elected as the treasurer of the organization this past year. I currently have been elected as vice chair for WiCSUH. As we transition the organization to WiCyS, a national organization, I will hold a member position in a local Houston WiCyS affiliate.