Scholarship Winner Talks at RSA Conference

April 17, 2009

Tyelisa Shields, a first-year master's student, has had quite a year. Shortly after her acceptance into Carnegie Mellon last spring, she was awarded the Executive Women's Forum Fellowship (EWF), named after an organization of women leaders in information security and risk management. She was paired with an executive mentor and given a full scholarship, sponsored by Alta Associates and the Information Networking Institute (INI). Less than a year later, Tyelisa is attending the premier event on information security, RSA Conference 2009, where she will speak on two occasions.

RSA Conference 2009 will not be the first industry event Tyelisa has attended in recent months. Tyelisa was also among five INI students selected to attend the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing that took place in Colorado in October. In January, she went to the EWF West Coast meeting at Symantec in Silicon Valley, where she spoke to the EWF members.

"I talked to the ladies about my current progress and shared stories about adjusting to college life from a Historically Black College to now being at Carnegie Mellon," said Tyelisa. "I learned a lot about transitions that they have made in their career and personal lives. It was truly an overwhelming experience."

Tyelisa has also gained industry experience through her graduate program, the Pittsburgh-Silicon Valley Master of Science in Information Technology - Information Security (MSIT-IS). The program requires the completion of a practicum, a real-world project with a technology company in Silicon Valley. 

"Industry activities, such as EWF mentoring, conferences and the Silicon Valley practicum, are very important to INI students," said Dena Haritos Tsamitis, director of the INI and of education, training and outreach for Carnegie Mellon Cylab. "These hands-on experiences teach them good management skills, in subtle but strong ways, that earn our students leadership positions in the future."

At RSA Conference 2009, Tyelisa will speak first to an audience of EWF members on April 21, and then at the annual EWF cocktail party the following evening. She plans to talk about the impact of the EWF Fellowship and will encourage other executive women to reach out to female graduate students and become mentors.

Pictured: Tyelisa Shields


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