In May, over 60 students from around the world descended on Washington, D.C. for our two-week National Security seminar. While there we took a moment to speak to Robert Morris University student Evan Kinney, a member of the "Top Secret Colonials," to hear his thoughts on the experience.
Let’s start with the basics...What is your name, where do you go to school, what are you majoring or minoring in, and when’s your graduation?
My name is Evan Kinney and I’m a student at Robert Morris University in Pennsylvania. I’m working toward my B.S. in Cyber Forensics and Information Security along with an M.S. in IT Project Management. I am set to graduate in the Spring of 2020.
What made you decide that you wanted to attend the National Security seminar?
This year’s influence was last year’s seminar. Last year was a lot of fun and put my mind into thinking about cybersecurity. Knowing that the theme was changed for this year -- it was just all of national security -- made it enjoyable as well. I knew I was going to learn many different aspects of security that I would have never even thought of.
What are the three main takeaways you’re going to take with you after this experience?
One of the major takeaways from this year’s seminar was how much the private sector sacrifices for the government. After visiting places such as Lockheed Martin and MITRE, it was mind-blowing to see what they are doing for the federal government. Another main key aspect that I will take away from this year’s seminar is the notion that are so many aspects of national security to keep track of. I never thought of the various national security threats that some of the speakers addressed at the seminar. And lastly, I will always remember how every speaker emphasized the power that every single one of us, as individuals, has. All of the speakers motivated us to do more and take action if we wanted to see change.
Why would you recommend this experience to a classmate?
Anytime somebody asks me about The Washington Center’s National Security Seminar (that RMU attends every year) I always tell them that it gives a student the opportunity to get different perspectives on various national security threats. Through this seminar you gain a greater appreciation and understanding of cybersecurity, physical security and the psychological component of national security and various threats.
Tell us about the Top Secret Colonials and the work you do on Robert Morris’ campus to make TWC a possibility for students.
The Top Secret Colonials is a cybersecurity professional development group on campus, that was started in 2011 when Dr. Karen Paullet took a group of students to The Washington Center’s National Security Seminar. Dr. Paullet formed the group as a way for students to fundraise for the National Security Seminar. The group was able to get donations to help cover certain costs thanks to the generosity of Buffalo Wild Wings and Chipotle. In the last few years, however, the group has morphed from just being a club that goes on an annual trip, to a sophisticated and thoughtful professional development organization. We now have over 120 active members which makes us the largest organization on campus.
Each month we host speakers who talk about their professions, cybersecurity, and discuss the internships that their companies offer. We also host hands-on workshops, and have added opportunities to attend site to visits at local companies who are in the cybersecurity field.
How has this experience – coupled with your knowledge from the classroom – influenced you and your future career path?
This awesome opportunity, and the entire experience, has allowed me to reflect on what I want to do in the cybersecurity field. Being able to go to Washington, D.C. allows me to experience first-hand where I can apply my knowledge and skills in the future. I recommend everyone takes advantage of this opportunity.