Colorado AG Phil Weiser joins CNCC for cybersecurity range opening
Editor’s note: this story has been updated to correct the place of work of one of the students.
Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser visited the Colorado Northwest Community Campus in Craig this morning to celebrate the lighting of the new cyber range on campus.
During the event, Weiser joined CNCC staff, board members, community members and students to celebrate the new cyber labs opening as an addition to the cybersecurity degree program the college piloted two years ago.
Several of the cybersecurity students shared their stories of how they became interested in the program and where they hope their careers will take them.
Colby Stein said he got laid off from his job during the pandemic around the same time the cybersecurity program was getting started. Like many other students, Stein saw the program as an opportunity to get into the information technology and cybersecurity field without racking up a ton of student loan debt.
For James Gore, who worked as a laborer in the past and saw how it breaks down someone’s body over time, the program offered a chance to get into something where he could use his mind and be around for his 7-year-old daughter.
Gore currently works in facilities for Moffat County. He said it has been challenging balancing his studies, family and job, but it has been worth it.
College President Lisa Jones said the cybersecurity program tends to attract more introverted students, and the event presented an opportunity to showcase the students and their work.
During his remarks, Wesier expressed how the program and the students’ stories were really a product of the American Dream and his belief that if you work hard and study hard, you can succeed.
A first-generation American whose parents came to the U.S. as holocaust survivors, Weiser said he believes that the country needs an education system that helps people achieve their goals and aspirations.
“In one generation, my family went from my parents being in the holocaust to me working in the White House under the President of the United States,” Weiser said. “This is how America is supposed to work.”
Now that we are living in the age of information, cybersecurity affects everything from online banking to aviation technology that controls national air traffic. Wesier pointed out just a few of the cybersecurity concerns that corporations in the public and private sectors have faced and how this program could solve some of those issues.
Jones said she encourages cybersecurity students to start thinking about what kind of niche they might want to go into because there are many different markets with different cyber security needs.
Many local leaders joined in the community conversation and have been a part of the Business Industry Leaders Team, tasked with cultivating opportunities for post-graduation employment.
Weiser applauded CNCC’s efforts toward building relationships and developing internships that will give students the experience they need, and he said he is willing to help make connections with stakeholders in the broader market.
Not only did the attorney general express support for the program, Weiser helped secure $500,000 in funding for the program out of a $3 million Equifax data breach settlement from 2020. He also encouraged CNCC to keep asking for more.
Weiser said he is committed to helping support the community through the coal industry transition in any way he can.
“I love Craig. I believe in this community, and this is a crown jewel of this community,” Weiser said.
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