With son as inspiration, Jennifer Deines earns her master’s in information technology in only two years

Rising Up at KUEC: In this Q & A series, outstanding 2019 KUEC graduates share how KU Edwards Campus has helped them start, advance or change their career. Meet Jennifer Deines.

Jennifer Deines

With her 9-year-old son cheering her on, 37-year-old Jennifer Deines has enhanced her information technology career as an auditor. Jumping on the cybersecurity track, she earned her Master of Science in information technology in only two years. A resident of Overland Park, Kansas, Deines currently works full-time as a senior IT compliance and audit analyst. KUEC Academic Success Coach Hossein Saiedian noted her commitment to academics in his selection of Deines as an outstanding 2019 graduate.

“Despite having to single-handedly manage all parental and professional responsibilities, she excelled at school work,” Saiedian said. “She was always on time, never late, and never absent. She often took leadership responsibility for team-oriented projects and represented the team and managed all project artifacts.”

Learn more about what makes this new graduate special and get her advice on how to succeed!

Q: What is a typical day in your life like?

A: First, getting the kiddo to school and then coffee. Next is work, where I can vary from researching a new regulation, writing policy, performing IT audits, collaborating with other teams such as finance, and working with various committees. A big focus for me has been privacy regulation like GDPR. Then it is home to making sure the kiddo gets to his events and hopefully some quilting or reading.

Q: What makes you the happiest?

A: Xander, coffee, quilting and Marvel movies.

Q: What motivates you?

A: My son. He’s the guy that tells me “You can do it!” every day. He is the best cheerleader.

Q: Why did you choose KUEC?

A: I wanted to get my master’s from a nationally recognized school where I could be in the classroom. Also, KU does research for NASA and I love learning about space; right now, the kiddo wants to be an astronaut.

Q: How did KUEC meet your personal and/or academic needs?

A: By allowing me to get back into a classroom with teachers who have research in topics that I work in daily.

Q: How has your KUEC degree prepared you for the future?

A: By expanding my IT background. I fell into IT auditing and due to the small team size, I gathered certifications in internal audit and my teammates held the IT certifications. This has helped support, build, and fill in gaps to make me a better, well-rounded auditor.

Q: What was the most difficult part of earning your college degree and how did you overcome it?

A: Giving up time with my son…he’s got a great babysitter and so he didn’t have to miss out on doing things because she could do those with him. But I had to be comfortable sharing my “mom” responsibilities. But now, we both have a great new friend in our lives.

Q: What is your proudest accomplishment?

A: Gosh, overall, it’s my son. But for school, probably earning my “A” in my database class. That was the hardest thing I’ve done but has been the class that has helped me the most in my career.

Q: What is your favorite memory of your time at KUEC?

A: All the new people I met and the net.

Q: What are your long-term career goals and how do you plan to achieve them?

A: I want to stay in internal audit/compliance, but the world is changing. We need flexible auditors with more IT skills that still understand business. I feel the days of a “financial,” “operational,” or “IT” auditor are coming to an end. A part of keeping my skills set honed was coming back to school…while also maintaining my audit certifications. I also work to collaborate with people in finance, project management, database management, business development and marketing to learn about what they do and how I can help them help our organization stay compliant.

Q: What advice would you give others who are thinking of earning a degree, whether a first-time bachelor’s, a second bachelor’s or a master’s?

A: I’d say for the first time students, take courses you wouldn’t normally and appreciate the diversity in a campus such as KU – there’s so much experience and background here! Get out of your box!

For those returning – you will have to make sacrifices; life doesn’t come without them. Be open to what classroom learning teaches you and adapt it as you need. When you can do that, you’ve truly educated yourself.

Learn more about the Master of Science Information Technology, Cybersecurity Track from KUEC.

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