Alphur "Slim" Willock ‘19, ‘23 knows that dedication in the face of obstacles is what it takes to get ahead. After the death of his wife, he took on the responsibility of caring for his six children while working full-time. Slim was able to fit not one, but two, online degree programs into his life—a BS in Information Systems and now an MS in Information Technology.
When Justin Brandon was a child, he loved to take things apart to figure out how they worked. As an eight-year-old, he got his hands on a computer and discovered that he could actually change and improve the programs. After serving in the military and working with computers in a variety of settings, Justin wanted a career where he could combine his extensive experience in computers and training. Now he’s at Pace, completing a degree in computer studies with a focus on cybersecurity and computer forensics.
One of Justin’s biggest opportunities so far has been interning in Pace’s Blue CoLab, working with teams of students who are exploring new ways to apply computer technology to protect human life. “My job involves consulting with the teams on their projects and making sure that the equipment they need—the sensors, data loggers, and water quality monitoring devices—all work together in the way that they should.” Says Justin, “They call me in to talk about the hardware, and it’s an opportunity to use my existing skills and hone new ones.”
“That experience gave me a taste of what graduate school will be like. It also taught me how to pitch my idea for a new hands-on course on white hat hacking, something I’d like Pace to offer.”
Justin also completely upgraded all of the lab’s wireless technology. And last year, he received a Summer Scholarship Grant to work with the Provost and two professors developing a new Blue CoLab curriculum that could be delivered via a remote learning platform. “That experience gave me a taste of what graduate school will be like. It also taught me how to pitch my idea for a new hands-on course on white hat hacking, something I’d like Pace to offer.”
Justin appreciates the quality of Pace’s faculty. “The instructors here have really impressive backgrounds, they work at places like IBM,” he says. “And through my electives, I’ve met professors who’ve given me opportunities to work on interesting projects outside my area, like Global Information Systems. We also have opportunities to connect with people in the industry. The Chief Technology Officer at Verizon just spoke with us about his experiences and what they’re looking for in new employees.”
Going back to school after being out in the world is challenging, but Justin says it’s worth it. “I’m learning how to collaborate with younger team members, how to be a good role model, and how to motivate others. Being at Pace has improved who I am overall.”