Converse University hosted the second annual Data and Cybersecurity Week from October 17 through the 19th. October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month; this event offered sessions for Converse students, faculty, and staff.
The three days of events helped faculty and staff find resources and foster new collaborations. Students connected with successful cybersecurity and data science professionals who offered unique insights and advice. These events were generously supported by Provost Joe Wilferth and Wynton Stephens, Director of the Center for Academic Excellence.
Faculty and staff attended a Lunch and Learn, “Incorporating Data and Data Practices in Your Classes,” led by Associate Professor of Math Dr. Amanda Mangum. Her talk explored the necessity for collaboration and resources for data and data science. Data touches nearly every field and industry, which can drive meaningful interdisciplinary projects across campus.
Associate Professor of Mathematics and Chair of the Mathematics Department Dr. Jessica Sorrells welcomed a Cybersecurity Panel consisting of successful practitioners in cybersecurity to talk to students about career paths, networking, certifications, and specifics of the field.
Panelists included Abbie Abbott, Senior Security Compliance Manager at New Relic; Chris Sorrells, Commercial Account Select Executive at Elastic; Dune Clarke, Cyber Security Specialist at ScanSource; and Pam Everitt, Head of Advisory Services at Soteria.
After the panel presentation, students had the opportunity for a Q&A and networking session with the panelists.
The Career & Internship Opportunities Panel hosted Converse alumni and current students in related fields, in partnership with the Office of Career Development. The panel offered tips about where to find internships, what to expect in the interview process, how to gain related experience and more. Each panelist offered advice on navigating the interview process and making your application stand out. They also discussed their career experiences, internships, and early career advice.
Panelists included Kimberly Leone Avinante ’21 (Nisbet Scholar), Operational Intelligence Analyst at Mailprotector, Angela Brobson ‘23 (Nisbet Scholar) from Carolina Software as a Service, Sydney Wilson ‘24, and Esha NagiReddi ’25 (Nisbet Honors).
The featured speaker for this year’s event was Dr. Melissa Ngamini. Dr. Ngamini is Lead Data Scientist at ADP, where she plans projects and builds data science models to help improve business decisions. She is a natural language processing specialist who has worked on projects such as identifying Twitter bots in an election season and helping train a chatbot to effectively point users to the information they need on a company’s website.
Dr. Ngamini’s talk, The Fun of Doing Data Science “for Good” and “for Profit,” explored everything from career advice to significant personal projects to pro bono work she devotes her time to through ATLyltics. ATLytiCS is a volunteer organization that aims to use data analytical approaches to help the most vulnerable communities in the Metro Atlanta region and beyond.
These successful events drew in many of our students and helped forge strong connections between Converse and the data and cybersecurity communities.