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From Cancer Surviving Mother to NOVA Cybersecurity Student and Sharing the Stage with Governor Northam

Fandrea Preston

Fandrea Preston, who recently spoke on stage where NOVA hosted Governor Northam’s “G3” signing; talks to NOVA about what brought her to the cybersecurity program and how she’s always motivated to keep on going despite how hard things get. 

Preston, who has a background in the medical field, had worked previously as a medical assistant for 10 years. She is a cancer survivor, mother of three and a current proud NOVA nighthawk. She previously attended Everest College to be a medical assistant, trained at Germanna to pursue nursing, and then realized technology was her passion. She is currently a second-year student in cybersecurity.

How did you hear about NOVA?

My husband is a former NOVA student and he finished his career here first. He was the one who told me to do cybersecurity, since at first, I was doing nursing.

How do you like NOVA so far?

I love the hands-on experience as well as the faculty and staff. A shout out to Professor KK (Kwabena Konadu). He is awesome. I love the motivational speeches he gives.

I just want to say thank you for all my professors for being there, and for the opportunity. It’s really helped my cancer recovery. It’s helped my motivation, my drive, and to think big.

Do you know how you can sometimes feel that you have superpowers? I feel reborn since defeating cancer and being pregnant at the same time. I take it day by day, and I get to say, ‘I beat that’. There’s a saying that it always seems impossible until you’re done.

Where do you see yourself after NOVA?

I see myself at home working virtually, and while continuing to provide for my children. I know I have that capacity to do that. We can be a mom and provide for our family as well. We can do both. Let no one tell you that you can’t.

GDIT is a company that I would love to work at. I was also looking at Microsoft, Google, AWS, Northrup Grumman, Leidos, and SAIC.

What do you want to tell an incoming NOVA student?

Stay the course, and your education will be worth it in the end. Whether it’s making a vision board, or little simple things like a to-do list, just defeat it and get it done. Don’t let nothing stop you.

What are your thoughts on G3, and for the future of community colleges?

G3 is going to help a lot of students financially. Without financial aid, FAFSA, and with the medical bills I had – I wouldn’t have been able to stay at NOVA. This will also help so many families.

If my kids can see that their mom can do it, finish school, then they can too. My husband and I are a cyber-power couple and we want to share that with our kids. I have a daughter, Desire (18), and two sons, Farod Jr. (6) and Ahlie (1). They are my ‘why’. They are the reason why I wake up, why keep pushing forward.

My tagline would be: Fandrea Strong! Cancer, whatever!

Northern Virginia Community College is the largest institution of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of America's largest community colleges. NOVA enrolls more than 75,000 students at its six campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield and Woodbridge, and through NOVA Online. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, call 703-323-3000 or visit the College's Web site, www.nvcc.edu.

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