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Hardworking and diligent, Sorina Aqunide Calero is one of the students in the Northern Virginia BIT-Cyber cohort. Previously, she attended Northern Virginia Community College and George Mason University for her associate’s degree before entering the workforce, where she has worked in the accounting field for 14 years. When Calero decided she wanted to go back to college to obtain her bachelor’s degree, she happened upon an email promoting Virginia Tech’s new program launching in collaboration with NOVA Community College: the BIT-Cyber program.

“Accounting is fun and everything, but after a certain amount of time, I just wanted to do something different,” Calero explained. “So, I decided to attend the BIT seminar to see what it was about. I gained interest from just attending the seminar, and so I decided, ‘Why not apply?’ I applied and I got accepted. I was very happy.”

Calero lives with her two sons and her husband in Northern Virginia. Because of her career and family obligations at home, Calero enjoys the accessibility of asynchronous classes and is appreciative of remote learning. The combination of fun professors and intriguing classes has kept her interest in the cybersecurity subject and helped her maintain her studies with rapt attention. She attributed her academic success to the support of her wonderful family and her own drive to achieve.

“I’m a first-generation college student,” she explained. “So, what makes me successful in my studies is the backing of my family members, because having their support definitely helps and is very encouraging.”

Calero continued, “And then the willpower. My willpower. I think that’s what drives my success because if I don't have the willpower, it’s not going to work.”

Within the BIT-Cyber program, her advisor, professors, and cohort leaders have all played an active part in her academic guidance. For working professionals like Calero, who do not have the luxury of putting their career to the side to study in Blacksburg, proper and quick communication is integral for a quality student experience.

“Everyone has been very supportive of my success in my studies,” she added. From course selection to internship hunting and networking to providing resources, the staff has been quick with communication and support.

As she has moved through the BIT-Cyber program, Calero has realized a new ambition – working in the field of cybersecurity.

“BIT-Cyber gives you a different insight on cybersecurity. I like it because of the intensity of the analytics portion. Eventually, I would like to hold an analytics position, like forensic accounting,” Calero said.

“As cybersecurity starts to expand, they will obviously need more manpower. The technology is only going to continue to advance, so BIT-Cyber is definitely the way to go.”

Along with the support of her family, Calero’s ambitious drive to explore her potential continues to grow as she completes her education at Virginia Tech.

-         Written by Virginia Nguyen