Student Spotlight: Christina Hanson

Welcome to the first CISE Security Program student spotlight! We’ll be sharing the story of one of our current or recently graduated students to learn a little more about their journey into the tech industry and how Merritt’s cybersecurity program has impacted them.

We’re kicking off the student spotlight with Christina Hanson, who graduated from the Network Infrastructure track in Summer of 2017 and now works as a Security Analyst at Truvantis, Inc.

Like many students in the program Christina entered the field of cybersecurity from a completely different field. While working as an Architectural Manager at a Home Owner’s Association, Christina started exploring other career opportunities, and it was cybersecurity that piqued her interest.

I had always been technical, but in my previous careers it was never the main focus. In 2014, I decided I wanted to change careers to something specifically technical. I have a friend/mentor in IT who gave me some guidance, and I started taking classes, with the expectation I would go the IT route. One of the classes I took was CIS72 — Network and Security Administration — and I was hooked.”

With the CISE Security Program, Christina found a variety of classes that challenged her but were also fun and engaging, particularly Forensics and Hacker Guard Technologies. Every class brought with it an opportunity to learn something new and develop her problem solving skills. Both as a student and as a security professional it was the constantly changing landscape of cybersecurity that has made this new career path so rewarding for Christina.

The main thing [I enjoy about security] is that there is always something new happening. A new vulnerability, another breach, a new product on the market, a new social media app everyone is using — as a security professional, I feel like I see things differently, and when anything new comes out, I think of it in terms of how secure it is, or what caused the issue that occurred (in the case of a breach). It keeps things interesting, especially since I get easily bored.”

In her current Security Analyst position, Christina has made good use of her Merritt security program education and now handles tasks such as PCI compliance, pen testing, and vulnerability scans. Learning about cybersecurity doesn’t end when you graduate, though. Christina stays current with the latest security news and trends with podcasts such as SANS Internet Storm Center and CyberWire, and enjoys attending meet-ups and conventions including Dead Drop, Bay Area OWASP, Cloud Mafia, DefCon, and BSidesSF. In particular, Christina is grateful to be a part of the SANS Women’s Academy.

I was also very fortunate to be selected as a member of the SANS Women’s Academy in 2017. The other 24 women in the program, as well as the mentors and advisors, have been a huge resource — we have a very active Slack channel, and keep in touch all the time. They are an excellent source of knowledge and support.”

Finally, Christina offers some parting advice for success in the CISE Security Program and beyond:

“Remember that you are part of a team. This is so important in InfoSec as an industry, as well as in the workplace. Getting to know the people you work with, fellow security professionals, and people you go to school with(!), can make all the difference when you get stuck — remember — we’re all in this together!”

To nominate yourself or others for a future Student Spotlight article, email us at:

CISE Security Program at Merritt College

Our Degree Program Turns Students into Cybersecurity Professionals

Alex Hurley

Written by

CISE Security Program at Merritt College

Our Degree Program Turns Students into Cybersecurity Professionals

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