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Passion for InfoSec propels BIT student down new career path

November 5, 2019

A Business Information Technology (BIT) student from Red River College has won a prestigious award from ISACA (formerly the Information Systems Audit and Control Association), which will provide her with a $2,000 scholarship and valuable industry connections as she steps into her new career.

Now in her second year, Melanie Par enrolled in the BIT program hoping to combine her background in criminology with her technical skills as a programmer, and quickly discovered a passion for the information security (InfoSec) community in Winnipeg.

“I’ve never been more excited for the future,” she says. “Winning this award has been a reaffirming experience to pursue a career in information technology.”

Par learned more about InfoSec by volunteering for The Long Con — a community-based information security conference — and as president of RRC’s ISACA student group.

Karen Kabel, an Information Security instructor at the College, launched the student group last year, making RRC one of only two post-secondary institutions in Canada to have an ISACA student chapter. Kabel has been a member of ISACA for more than 20 years and was the first female president in Winnipeg; she thinks Melanie could soon serve in the same role.

“Melanie is always the first one to volunteer to help with our ISACA student activities,” says Kabel. “She was key in helping putting on the group’s first information security student conference (at the ACE Project Space). She volunteers to make a difference in the security industry for other RRC students, which makes her deserving of this award and the advantages that come with it.”

Apart from the technical training the BIT program provides, Par says it’s the interpersonal skills she developed at RRC that will prove most beneficial when she begins her career.

“The communications and professional development courses built on my business communications skills, but the camaraderie amongst the students in my term really helped with my teamwork skills,” she says. “I know from experience that teamwork and communication will make a real difference.”

Being an award recipient will give Par the opportunity to connect with InfoSec professionals and to acquire additional skills through ISACA workshops and certifications. The award also helped her pay off her student debt in full.

“I look forward to job hunting without the extra financial stress,” she says.

Applicants for the ISACA award must submit a research paper in which they demonstrate a strong commitment to their academic studies, an interest in a full-time career in InfoSec or IT Audit, and the potential to be an outstanding participant in the InfoSec and IT Audit communities.

For her research paper, Par wrote about the impact of cybersecurity issues on public services. She’s now looking forward to graduating in January, and hopes to continue refining her skills as she begins a career in industry.