Player Ambassador, National Cyber League
As an adult re-skilling into I.T. from scratch, I got more out of the NCL CTF for $30 than I did out of books I spent $100+ on each. Having engaging, interactive, practical applications and examples for abstract computing concepts unlocks neural pathways and switches on all sorts of lights. The team game, meanwhile, reinforces the cooperative social skills that 70% of I.T. employers say are lacking in cyber security graduates. If the world is serious about addressing its cyber security labor shortage, NCL is a great way to do it, and I’m grateful to be a part of it.
Taisa had an analog childhood but was one of the first kids on her block to play Oregon Trail. She took an experimental C++ class in high school in the year *mumblemumble* to avoid taking math and was voluntold to help maintain the school website after that. She still has the pretty tin that the AOL floppy disks came in at Christmastime and won’t give up her flip phone.
Taisa was a cleaning lady at one time and has since re-skilled into I.T. from essentially zero. For ten years, she was the full-time, non-technical assistant to a high-level I.T. security architect consultant, and she saw firsthand (while also sweeping the floors) how desperate the need for a skilled cyber security workforce is. Challenged to step up, she grabbed a 20-year-old MCSE study guide off her boss’ shelf to see if she could even understand it. Several weighty tomes later, Taisa sat for the CompTIA Network+ and Security+ certification exams and passed both on the first try.
Much of the CompTIA exam content, though—like sample logs to analyze—hadn’t been covered in those books, and, despite an eclectic employment history, Taisa had no practical I.T. experience yet, nor any college-level degree.
The need to return to school was apparent, so Taisa enrolled in Houston Community College‘s CAE-2Y designated Cyber Security degree program. At HCC, Taisa maintained a 4.0 GPA, was a founding officer of her school’s Cyber Security Club, worked part-time in the ADA (Disability Services) computer lab, was a volunteer Instructional Aide in the Firewalls and IDS classes, spoke at two of her college’s I.T. events, was chosen from among the first-semester programming students to present her final programming project on stage, was a guinea pig for an NCL trial run at her school in 2018, and she was HCC’s highest ranking competitor in NCL in 2019.
In the NCL Spring 2020 Preseason Game, Taisa ranked #1 in the Log Analysis module out of over 5,000 competitors nationwide. (Eat that, books! Just kidding. We love the important foundational structure you lay, books. ❤ )
In Summer 2020, Taisa was one of 14 students selected from over 1,000 applicants to participate in IBM’s coveted X-Force Red internship program, where she was mentored by some of the world’s greatest hackers.
When she assumed her mantle as an NCL Player Ambassador in Fall 2020, Taisa had not yet entered the cyber security workforce. She was still on-call to haul trash on the weekends, and she slept on a couch that doubled as her workstation.
In Winter 2021, following graduation, Taisa entered a career in cyber security.
If you are considering re-skilling into cyber security—no matter where you are in life—Taisa and all of the Player Ambassadors hope you’ll go for it, and we are here to help you on your way.
Where to find her:
Taisa continues to resist the social media revolution, but she can be found overusing emojis on the Cyber Skyline Slack along with the other Player Ambassadors.
Find all the blog posts written by Taisa here!