Computers are really awesome, but what if this data gets into the wrong hands?

– Kat Alberto | AAS Cybersecurity

You hear it all the time.

Cyberattack. Data breach. Spam and phishing.

Technology is evolving at rapid speed, leaving us more vulnerable to cybercrimes. Companies around the world will face an estimated annual $10.5 trillion in cybercrime costs by 2025, according to Cybersecurity Ventures. Compare that to $3 trillion in 2015.

Luckily, people like Kat Alberto (AAS Cybersecurity) are on the case.

“Computers are really awesome, but what if this data gets into the wrong hands?” the Ivy Tech Fort Wayne Cybersecurity student says. “This field is growing, and we need more ways of keeping it secure.”

Queue the theme music for Forensic Files. What does that true crime documentary series, CSI: Miami, and the movie Hackers (1995) have in common? Watching these shows with her mom all sparked the New Jersey native’s passion for forensics and led her to realize she could take that passion digitally. However, it was a longer journey before she decided to channel her inner digital detective.

“Growing up, computers weren’t that readily available in households yet, especially as a Hispanic immigrant family.”

Alberto’s family immigrated from El Salvador before she was born and moved to a culturally rich Hispanic American neighborhood 15 minutes from Manhattan. While just a walk away from incredible food, computers were hard to come by. She recalls the first time her eyes were opened to the digital world: using a computer running on Windows 98.

“I was like ‘wow’ and wanted to know everything about how it worked.”

To Alberto, getting down to the basics of computers is like solving a puzzle or finding a pattern. She grew up learning the ins and outs and what not to do but never envisioned herself majoring in an information technology field—let alone going to college. In fact, she took several years off after high school before deciding it was time to continue her education.

“I realized as I got older that I wouldn’t be able to go far in what I wanted to do without getting a certification or degree,” Alberto says. “I was in a place where I could go to college full-time and leave my job and focus on my studies.”

Alberto and her boyfriend moved to Fort Wayne a few years ago, away from high cost of living areas, and into a home that was already paid-off. As they got settled, she began looking for colleges in the area where she could get a degree without taking online classes. A few Google reviews and price comparisons later, she enrolled at Ivy Tech.

It was spring 2022 when her journey to the degree began. With a lot of hard work, and guidance from her instructors, she’s planning to be done with her degree by this upcoming spring.

“Ivy Tech is a good school; you get out of it what you put into it. Having a good work ethic isn’t something you develop in the workforce; you begin developing it in school.”

A goal of Alberto’s was to get out of her comfort zone, and she did that by joining the Information Technology Club. She was able to meet other people passionate about technology and learn more about the other careers in the field. Now, she’s a Student Admin for the club, which currently meets every Tuesday at 5 p.m.

“There were people in software development, AI and machine learning, cybersecurity. I saw all the bits and pieces and different aspects of IT and all the people taking some sort of IT degree here.”

Ivy Tech is a good school; you get out of it what you put into it. Having a good work ethic isn’t something you develop in the workforce; you begin developing it in school.

– Kat Alberto | AAS Cybersecurity

Did you know that IT also involves math?

Alberto also serves as a Supplemental Instructor for MATH 136. She says it’s an honor to be in that position since the opportunity only comes around after an instructor nominates you, as she found out later. Students can go to her office hours to ask questions about assignments and get help.

“I love math. If I can talk to someone else other than my boyfriend, who is absolutely tired of me talking about math all the time, and help other students, that’s a win.”

After Alberto finishes up her core classes and some gen eds, she plans to pursue a bachelor’s at Purdue Global. In the meantime, she’ll continue reading her thrillers and filling her office with undervalued computer parts from Craigslist to support her desired career path of Digital Forensics. Plus, she’s looking forward to her mom moving to town.

“The only reason I’m able to do what I’m doing right now is because of my mom and my boyfriend. They are the world’s greatest support system. To have her closer would mean the world.”

Any career in the IT industry is valuable and not going away any time soon. If you’re interested in going down a similar path, Alberto offers this advice:

“For anyone in this field or any IT field, be up to date with the latest tech because technology changes so rapidly. If you want an edge over others in your career, staying up to date is a must.”

Want to know more about opportunities in Information Technology at Ivy Tech? Visit our website to learn more.

About Ivy Tech Community College

Ivy Tech Community College is Indiana's largest public postsecondary institution and the nation's largest singly accredited statewide community college system, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Ivy Tech has campuses throughout Indiana and also serves thousands of students annually online. It serves as the state's engine of workforce development, offering associate degrees, long- and short-term certificate programs, industry certifications, and training that aligns with the needs of the community. The College provides a seamless transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana, as well as out of state, for a more affordable route to a bachelor's degree.