Juan Cruz

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – U.S. Navy veteran and Border Patrol agent Juan Cruz, of Harlingen, recalled a few moments in his life that motivated him to pursue an Associate of Applied Science degree in Cybersecurity at Texas State Technical College.

Cruz’s mother purchased a computer that he would use for studies to start middle school. Next was a LAN (local area network) party gaming experience that he enjoyed with friends. In high school, he enrolled in computer maintenance to expand his ongoing knowledge.

“I remember reading network protocol and IPv4 (Internet Protocol version 4) on the computer when I was younger,” he said. “Gaming piqued my interest further and how a computer communicates. I was intrigued how the LAN device connected 10 Xboxes together. It was really fascinating.”

The instructors in TSTC’s Cybersecurity program instill remarkable knowledge in their students for success in a digital landscape.

Cruz said Cybersecurity instructor Jan Nesmith has been essential to his growth.

“Mrs. Nesmith is wonderful and has always been available to answer my questions,” he said. “The lectures are interesting. I learn a subject I am familiar with more in-depth — for example, the LAN party that I joined with my friends when I was young. The instructors explained what each device is for, then how it works in the network and why it works.”

Nesmith said he is dedicated to his educational and professional goals while working long hours.

“His profession provides opportunities for possible promotions and support, and with other federal agencies,” she said. “There is a high demand in the federal government for talented and skilled individuals to protect a variety of agencies.”

Now in his final semester, Cruz reflected on an engaging assignment in the course Security Assessment and Auditing.

“Pen testing is a simulated cyberattack on your computer system that evaluates its security for vulnerabilities,” he said. “For example, a company will hire a cybersecurity analyst to analyze their network. The analyst then provides suggestions about how the company can improve their website. In the end, you manage a report about the processes you performed for the client.”

Cruz will earn his degree on April 26 at TSTC’s Spring 2022 Commencement Ceremony.

“Just thinking about graduation makes me emotional,” he said. “I am the oldest of eight siblings, and I will be the first one in my family to obtain a college degree. I would like to continue my education and pursue a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity.”

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

To learn more about TSTC, visit tstc.edu.

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