Q+A: Husband and wife find support, success together in the JCERT-supported BSIT program at KUEC
Alex and Constance Arriaga-Flores are students in the JCERT-supported Bachelor of Science in Information Technology program at KU Edwards Campus. Information technology covers a variety of professional disciplines, including software development, systems administration and analysis, network support, web development, cybersecurity, and computer and information research science.
As IT solutions continue to expand, professionals are needed in nearly every business sector. We spoke to Alex and Constance about how KU Edwards, and the JCERT-supported BSIT program, have prepared them for the future and helped them jump start their careers, all while working full-time and raising a son as they finish their degrees.
Why did you choose KU Edwards and the BSIT program?
Constance Arriaga-Flores: I've always worked full-time, and I have a six-year-old son that I have to support as well, so trying to be a traditional student doesn't really work. If you are a working individual a lot of the classes are available on Zoom, which is great when you work and have a child. KU Edwards is also smaller, so it feels like you can get to know your professor on a deeper level.
Alex Arriaga-Flores: At first it was just to get a college degree, but I eventually found out that I really wanted to go into cybersecurity. I chose the information technology program because it's such a broad topic and covers a lot of things from coding, to networking, to cybersecurity. I felt that no matter what career path I chose, in the end I would be well equipped.
How does KUEC and the JCERT-supported BSIT program meet your personal and/or academic needs?
CAF: Not only is the BSIT program awesome, the instructors are really awesome too. I don't think we've had an instructor that we didn’t like. They've all been really great to work with, and the online classes in the evening are great for nontraditional students.
AAF: There is a computer lab specifically for BSIT students that’s open until campus closes, and students have access as long as they have their ID badge. Other resources are online or provided by the professor, but overall, it’s really convenient.
What supports or opportunities at KUEC were impactful?
CAF: We both received scholarships at Edwards, and that helps with the financial burden of trying to pay for classes and everything else that we need for school, like textbooks and supplies and things. It definitely alleviates the worry of having to take out student loans to cover the difference, so we're very thankful for those scholarships.
AAF: We rely on a lot of program flexibility. It's been a godsend, being able to work full-time without having to worry about having to take time off. It just makes everything so much more convenient.
How will your degree prepare you for the future? What are your career goals?
AAF: I'm actually employed at KUMC as an information security analyst, and that wouldn't have been possible if my professor didn't recommend me for an internship. It was a really tough decision for me because at the time I worked for the school district doing help desk, and I would have lost the benefits that we were on, and receive a slight pay cut as well. Eventually a position opened up, and because I was an intern at KUMC and had previous IT experience, they were able to hire me on full-time as an information security analyst.
CAF: For me, just having a degree – which a lot of employers like – it'll definitely give a boost to my career, and hopefully help me achieve all my career goals in the future.
What motivates you?
CAF: My motivation was my son. I started school three months after he was born, which was two days after my 20th birthday. I was young and thought, “Okay, I need to get my life together. I have a child to take care of now.” Three months later I started school, and it's been a journey ever since.