Combining her passion for forensics and information technology on the NYC Campus, Janet Nweke '18 wasn't always an avid fighter of cybercrime. Before coming to Pace, she had her sights set on competing in the Olympic Games!
Janet Nweke ’18, a once forensic science major, was able to combine her passion for information technology by switching her major to computer forensics—all so she could combat cybercrime. She got her start honing her skills while working at Pace’s Computer Lab and went on to land a coveted internship at Proskauer Rose LLP, an international law firm, working in IT security. Throughout her time on the NYC Campus, Nweke has fielded IT questions and assisted students with everything from Wi-Fi connectivity issues, to remote desktop installation, to malware removal, and so much more. And she’s only just getting started!
Where is Nweke headed next? What sport did she train in before coming to Pace? You’ll learn all that and more by the end of this interview.
Why did you end up choosing Pace? What set Pace apart from other universities?
That's a really great question! I ended up choosing Pace because, initially, it was the only school in NYC that offered a bachelor's degree program in forensic science. Out of all the other colleges that I applied to, Pace also had the best financial aid package. The location of the school was also ideal, as I live in Staten Island and liked the option of an easy commute.
I believe what sets Pace apart from other universities lies in its diversity, various majors, and tools for success. Its diversity can be seen via the student body, faculty, and staff. Pace also offers a wide range of majors so if you are like me, you can easily switch out of one major into another one that better meets your passion. In fact, during UNV 101, this was stressed to us constantly. Going into Pace, I knew that if my major did not work out I could comfortably find something else without switching schools. The other colleges that I had applied to were not as versatile.
Lastly, the tools for success provided by Pace are simply outstanding. Tools for success come in the form of advisors, the Writing Center, the Tutoring Center, Career Services, and more. However, a student must actively reach out and inquire in order to receive them.
How did you hear about Career Services? Were you referred by a professor or a student?
I learned about Career Services through my coworkers at the Computer Resource Center (CRC). I remember it as though it happened yesterday. I arrived to work and was surprised to see a few of my coworkers rushing to print resumes. They were also dressed in business attire, so out of curiosity, I inquired as to the occasion. My coworkers excitedly told me that today was the semi-annual Career Fair hosted by Career Services. I remember wishing that I had participated in that event, yet I was informed that it was an event only for those with Handshake access, so I called Career Services and learned what the steps were to gain access.
Who worked with you?
I first worked with Orellana del Fierro who introduced me to Career Services and walked me through the initial Handshake process. These steps included an in-person group session were I was formally introduced to Career Services and Handshake. I also learned of my responsibilities when participating in the Career Services internship program. Next, I attended an interview workshop—again, led by Orellana—and I remember feeling very accomplished. I knew that I was forming the building blocks of my future. After the session, I met with Orellana one-on-one and after discussing my career goals, she refereed me to Svetlana Kotlyarenko. Through Svetlana, I was able to gain more insight on resume building for an IT professional.
What was the preparation process like?
The preparation process was tedious, yet rewarding. Looking back, I really appreciate my resume preparation process with Svetlana. Svetlana definitely did not make my resume building easy and I am grateful for that. When I first visited Svetlana, I was instructed to brainstorm my technical skills and come back with a reworked resume. I felt very anxious, as this was my first time working on an IT professional resume. However, the more I brainstormed, the more I was able to recognize and write down my technical skills; I also discovered IT skill areas that were weak. I decided the best course of action would be to strengthen them before meeting with Svetlana.
I would say that it took about three semesters to accomplish this goal. When I finally met with Svetlana again, she was impressed with my improvements, and my resume was approved. I then attended Pace's Career Fair and also spent my entire spring 2017 applying for internships for the summer. I will always be grateful for Svetlana's instructions! Without them, I would not have been able to perfect my resume and land internships.
Of all your employment positions, which did you like the best? What was a defining moment for you while working there?
Wow, that's a question I've never really thought about. It is actually pretty hard to distinguish the one that I liked the best. However, if I had to choose, I would be stuck between Pace's CRC and my current IT security internship with Proskauer Rose LLP. Both have greatly enhanced my technical skills along with other job-related skills!
At the CRC, I learned the very basics of IT such as Wi-Fi connections, printer troubleshooting, remote desktop installation, malware removal, and various software downloads. I also replaced my first-ever keyboard! At the CRC, you really get exposed to a wide range of technical problems, which you can help students and faculty solve. One defining moment that I can think of would be the time that my IT technician manager entrusted me with assisting some software downloads specific to a club organization at Pace. It was really an honor because it spoke to the length of my technical growth at the CRC.
Concerning Proskauer Rose LLP, I have learned so much in the past six months from this amazing law firm. My IT security skills have advanced from textbook knowledge to actual hands-on experience. For example, I am now knowledgeable in security software such as Rapid7, Symantec, Varonis, and more. I have also gained a greater understanding of the business side of cybersecurity thanks to my awesome manger. Regarding defining moments, one that comes to mind would be my first-ever Windows PowerShell script. I implemented a script that outputted an excel spreadsheet of certain active directory groups. Although very small, I remember how excited I felt successfully running the script.
What initially got you into IT? Did someone or something inspire you, or were you always interested in the subject?
It's funny, my friends always ask this question because I used to be a forensic science major. Truthfully, I believe what got me interested in studying IT relies in my work environment, Dean Jonathan Hill, PhD; Assistant Dean Stephanie Elson; and Darren Hayes, PhD. When I first arrived at Pace, I began working for the CRC during my second semester as a freshman. It was during this time that I began to seek out potential computing classes to register for. I was lucky enough to take Introduction to Computing with Professor Hill and Olga Bova. I was able to grasp Hill's teachings on HTML quickly, and I also went to a few of his Seidenberg events. I remember one of those events being related to women in tech. I found this particular event so empowering that I later called the Seidenberg front desk and inquired about meeting with an advisor.
As luck would have it, I was paired with Stephanie Elson. I remember this moment as though it were yesterday. I was an upper sophomore, unhappy with my current major, and seeking guidance. After speaking with Stephanie, the following semester I began the process of switching my major. Then I registered for a few IT courses—one of which included computer forensics. This decision proved to be another phenomenal choice, as I got to meet Professor Hayes. Through his teachings, I was inspired to choose computer forensics as an IT focus. The rest, as they say, is history, and I fell in love with Pace's IT program and never looked back.
What motivates you?
Personally, I am motivated by my desire to protect others from cybercrime. The technology age is one that is quite marvelous. However, there are many who attempt to use technology for the purpose of heinous acts. These crimes can fall into various categories such as human trafficking, identity theft, corporate espionage, terrorism, and more. That is why I am so passionate about studying IT with a focus in computer forensics. It is this passion that also led to my interest in IT security because in order to fully understand computer forensics, one must acquire a basic knowledge of its parent: IT security.
You recently led a coding workshop for LKY Unity Tech Club. Can you tell us a little bit about that? How did you get involved and what was that experience like?
Yes, for sure! LKY Unity Tech Club was created by my good friend Laura Yancy, the founder and CEO. Her foundation works assiduously to expose digital technology and computer science to underrepresented African communities. It was established in Parkhill, Staten Island, a widely underrepresented African community, and also the childhood neighborhood of Yancy. The club offers various STEM programs, and Laura believed that I would be a perfect workshop leader. I jumped at the opportunity, because for a long time, I had always wanted to distribute my acquired Pace IT knowledge to our youth. As a Nigerian-American, I felt very connected to her efforts, as one of my long-term goals involves building an STEM school in my family's hometown.
Tell us a surprising fact about you! What's something most people don't know?
When I was younger, I participated in various sports teams. Some of these involved soccer, swimming, track, basketball, taekwondo, and ice skating. I was very energetic growing up, and my mother was encouraged me to participate in sports. My favorite teams that I can remember are my YMCA swim team, Our Lady of Good Counsel track team, and the St. John's Villa Academy basketball team. Out of the three favorites, I really loved my track team with Our Lady of Good Counsel. I excelled in track and there was talk of attempting to reach Olympic runner status. However, I injured my leg and thus, my track career ended. I look back at it as sort of a blessing because had I not injured my leg, I probably would not have discovered my current career passions.
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Pace Law is offering a free two-night LSAT boot camp on Wednesday, June 27, and Thursday, June 28, on the Law School Campus. Register today!
Summer 2018 LSAT Boot Camp
Have you ever been whale watching? On Friday, June 8, you'll get the chance to meet one of nature's most majestic creatures—and work with NYC's Whale Research and Advocacy Organization, too!
Science at Sea (NYC)
Daniella Pajonas ’19 is the co-founder and current co-president of the Queer Society, a queerleader for the LGBTQA and Social Justice Center, and an RA on the NYC Campus. With all that experience, she has plenty of advice for her fellow Setters!