Where did you complete your undergraduate degree?

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

What played into your decision to get a graduate engineering degree?

I began working at The Boeing Co., and there are always conversations and meetings about planning your future career and where you want to see yourself in one year, three years, five years, etc. From the moment I found out that Boeing would help pay for me to get a master's degree, I knew it was something I wanted to pursue. Given the area I work in, getting a graduate degree in engineering made sense and could help expand my career in my current area or give me the opportunity to explore another function within the company.

Why did you pick WashU?

WashU was one of many universities that Boeing would help pay for, but the prestige behind WashU's name would allow me to take my talent to other career opportunities within Boeing or even another company.

What was your favorite course and why?

I have enjoyed all of the courses I have taken so far, but my favorite and most challenging course thus far has been the Risk Management course. Given the opportunity, I would take the course again simply to absorb even more knowledge and information than I did the first time. It was also the first course in which I was able to take the exact content I was learning in the course and apply it to my position at Boeing. With that information, I am helping to save our company more than $8 million.

Who is your favorite instructor and why?

I couldn't pick a favorite at this point — the three instructors I have had for four classes have all been amazing in different ways. Mike Jenkins was my instructor for two cybersecurity classes, and his knowledge of the field was critical in understanding concepts and current events. Ozzie Lomax, my risk management instructor, has retired from Ameren, has his own risk management consulting company and has allowed me to analyze my everyday life choices in a completely different way. Finally, Susan Bandi who teaches Privacy in the Digital Age, is currently part of the global privacy office within Monsanto and has helped me to understand the vast amount of integration and coordination between a privacy office and a security office and why it is becoming so important to pay attention to privacy.

What advice would you give to a new student?

Take all of the classes you can, talk to your professors about their own failures, memories, lessons learned and greatest experiences. All of these professors are also professionals and can give you real-world examples of how you can apply concepts to your own professional career. Always participate in classroom discussions — this is where you glean information from peers, coworkers and other professionals about what is happening in the professional world now, and how you can help improve and change culture, processes or entire ways of thinking.

What is your favorite thing about St. Louis?

My favorite thing about St. Louis is that in 10 to 20 minutes in any given direction, you have something new and exciting to do. Whether it's downtown, Dogtown, South City, Central West End or downtown Clayton, there is always something going on and always great restaurants to try and bands to listen to.

Do you have any work history?

I worked with a small plastics manufacturing company for four years as an IT data analyst/developer/end-user support, etc. It was a small company so I had to wear many hats and learned a little bit about a lot of IT-related topics. Once I felt like I had reached a point that I had gained enough knowledge to move to another company, I applied for a job with The Boeing Co. as an IT systems and data analyst.

What are your plans for the future?

My plans for the future are to finish my graduate degree by 2021 and use this as a springboard to the next step in my career. Since I started with The Boeing Co., I have always had aspirations to break into management, and the education and experiences I have and will gain from WashU, will help that become a reality.