U.S. military veteran David Murillo is pursuing an Associate of Applied Science degree in Cybersecurity at TSTC’s Harlingen campus.

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – U.S. Army veteran David Murillo worked under contract as a security guard with the Department of Homeland Security for nearly two decades.

Last year his former employer experienced a critical situation when the pandemic limited the team’s work. That led Murillo, of Brownsville, not only to search for ways to supplement his income, but also to pursue the second of two degrees from Texas State Technical College.

“I graduated with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Computer Drafting and Design Technology from TSTC in 2003,” he said. “I realized that returning to TSTC would be a smart option. I visited TSTC and received help from enrollment coach Melissa Villareal. She mentioned that some programs are in high demand, such as Cybersecurity. I thought it would be great to learn the digital side of security.”

Now Murillo is studying for an Associate of Applied Science degree in Cybersecurity at TSTC’s Harlingen campus.

“I enjoy making new and returning students feel welcome at TSTC,” Villarreal said. “David is eager to do well in the Cybersecurity program. He maintains great communication with me and engages well with his instructors.”

Murillo said his first semester has been motivating.

“I have learned about a computer’s software, diagnostic commands, research and other components,” he said. “The courses I’m taking are Fundamentals of Networking Technologies, Implementing and Supporting Servers, and Personal Computer Hardware. It’s fascinating how each has a connection to the Cybersecurity field.”

The first-semester student said he is adjusting to the program’s demands.

“I’ve been away from college for almost 20 years,” he said. “The instructors have vast industry knowledge and educate us well. What I enjoy is the program’s camaraderie. The instructors challenge every student because they want us to succeed.”

John Labanieh, a TSTC Cybersecurity instructor in Harlingen, admires Murillo’s dedication.

“David’s transition from a security background to exploring the digital landscape of cybersecurity is intriguing,” Labanieh said. “His previous experience may offer valuable insights. I would like to see how he applies that knowledge to the coursework, new concepts and hands-on training.”

TSTC offers online training for its Cybersecurity program. Students can choose to pursue an Associate of Applied Science degree in Cybersecurity, certificates of completion in Cybersecurity, and an advanced technical certificate in Digital Forensics Specialist.

Cybersecurity is one of TSTC’s Performance-Based Education programs, meaning that students move through their training at a flexible pace.

In Texas, digital forensics analysts can earn an average annual salary of $83,340, according to onetonline.org. The website projected that the number of analysts in the state was expected to grow by 20% between 2020 and 2030.

Registration for TSTC’s fall semester is underway. For more information, visit tstc.edu.

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