As Cybersecurity Awareness Month Kicks Off, NOVA Showcases Future Professional

October 2, 2023

This past summer, Nighthawk Anthony Hailey wrapped up a cybersecurity internship with one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. He is currently pursuing two degrees at NOVA and is on track to graduate in Summer 2024.


After graduation, Anthony plans to earn his bachelor’s in cybersecurity while also working in the industry. If you were to ask him about his secret to success, he would gladly tell you about the program that taught him the skills he needed to become a professional and also helped him secure that big internship. Now Anthony is sharing his story.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background:
I went to Woodbridge Senior High School, and I got really into computers in the summer of my senior year. I began by learning how to build my own computer. Then I started learning about operating systems like Windows and Linux, experimenting with their various features and benefits. Eventually I learned about Raspberry Pi, a compact device that functions like a regular computer but is significantly smaller. I created various projects with it, such as a remote for NAS (network-attached storage) external storage and backup. 

What brought you to NOVA?
As my interest in cybersecurity grew, I looked into options at NOVA and ended up joining the Year Up program, which teaches professionalism, effective communication and leadership skills. The one-year professional development program comprises a semester of NOVA classes and a six-month internship in your desired field.

I recently finished my internship on the Incident Response Team at Merck & Co. in Rahway, New Jersey. It was a huge opportunity because Merck is a major company. For the first month of my internship, I shadowed the team and learned how to tackle incidents and projects. As I became more familiar and confident with the workflow, I gained a lot of hands-on experience with industry tools.

The internship offered me knowledge and skills that extended far beyond the classroom. I am incredibly grateful to both Merck and Year Up for the invaluable experience.

What are you studying at NOVA?
I plan to have two degrees, one in cybersecurity and one in cloud computing, since those programs require the same classes. For my cloud degree, I only need to take an extra semester. I have also earned CompTIA CySA+ and Security+ certifications, and I’m working toward my Network+ and Linux+ certifications through the ACE Credentials program. I was originally interested in aerospace engineering but switched to cybersecurity because of how much I enjoyed it!

Tell Us About Your Experience at NOVA, i.e., professors you’ve liked and friends you’ve met.
My experience at NOVA has been great so far. The connections I made in Year Up, the NOVA ALLCyber Club and my classes will stay with me throughout my career.

What would you tell a student coming to NOVA?
I would tell a NOVA student interested in cybersecurity to look at Year Up, the ALLCyber Club and ACE Credentials, as these three resources have been tremendously beneficial during my time at NOVA. Year Up taught me professionalism, the ALLCyber Club provided hand-on experience that helped me excel during my internship and ACE Credentials funded my certification vouchers!

Where do you see yourself after NOVA or what career pursuits are you exploring?
I would love to participate in Merck's IT Emerging Talent Rotational Program. After getting my two degrees from NOVA, I will pursue my bachelor's at George Mason University through the ADVANCE program. My goal is to secure a job in cybersecurity by January 2024, and I hope to have three years of valuable industry experience before graduating from Mason.

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