Network engineer and security analyst Tosin Ajayi became aware of Women & Hi Tech through the IvyWorks program at Ivy Tech Community College. That is where Ajayi worked to earn her Associates Degree of Applied Science in Cyber Security and Information Assurance, as well as a certificate in Digital Forensics, both of which she completed in 2020. “It was always my goal to earn my degrees without taking on any debt, so I was paying out of pocket for my courses. But when the COVID pandemic hit, I ended up losing my job,” she explained. With her sights set on continuing to pursue her Bachelor’s in Cyber Security and Information Assurance at Western Governors University (WGU), she wasn’t sure what would come next, but she didn’t want to compromise on her goal. “I have always believed you should never let even the most unexpected circumstances derail you. You may be blindsided by an event, but once you can look around, there is always another way to achieve your goals.”
For Ajayi, that next step came in the form of a Women & Hi Tech newsletter calling for Leading Light Awards scholarship applicants. Tosin won the 2020 $10,000 WGU scholarship and was able to seamlessly progress into the pursuit of her bachelor’s degree, which she is on track to achieve in 2022. “Once Women & Hi Tech made that investment in me, I was even more inspired to continue investing my time with them,” she explained. Ajayi is a volunteer on the Women & HI Tech communications committee, assisting with social media management and website management.
In addition to this growth, Tosin is also grateful to have achieved a new position at SMC, where she works in monitoring security events and response. “We use cutting-edge tools to monitor global security events and known vulnerabilities. We also communicate with diverse teams and departments to make risks known and explain the necessary actions that need to be taken. And we enhance processes and procedures in response to what we learn.”
Ajayi is passionate about cybersecurity for many reasons. One is the fact that “bad actors are not sleeping. They are always looking for new ways to steal and infiltrate, and that action impacts people. Both companies and individuals need to be continually learning to protect ourselves and those who trust us from threat actors.” She is also inspired by the changes she has seen in the industry since she began pursuing her Associates degree in 2016. “Back then I was worried it would be a challenge just to get an entry-level position. Now, companies are seeing there are capable, passionate women with the ability to help them achieve and exceed cybersecurity goals.”
Tosin is a mother to two children, a six-year-old boy and a three-year-old girl. “I now know with confidence that if either of them wants to pursue a career in STEM, they will both have opportunities available to them. I would not hesitate to encourage either of them if that is their interest.” As an immigrant from Nigeria, Tosin hopes to see Women & Hi Tech expand its reach beyond borders. “Women & Hi Tech is going above and beyond in Indiana, but young girls all over the world need support to pursue STEM as a career. I want to see more high school and middle school students, especially girls, engaged in awareness of STEM. If students can have more training earlier, they can grow their skills and start careers out of high school, then learn as they go.”
“I look forward to how I see the future being reshaped by organizations like Women & Hi Tech,” she concluded. “Diversity is already better than what it used to be, and I now regularly see qualified women being recognized and celebrated for their qualifications. As challenges continue to be dismantled, things will only get better for every professional in STEM fields, and for future generations too.”