Ms Elena Scifleet, 41, from Newcastle New South Wales, graduated with a Master of Cyber Security and was awarded a Postgraduate University Medal on Thursday 6 April, officially celebrating her graduation on Wednesday 13 September at a Charles Sturt ceremony in Sydney.
“I am very honoured to have received a university medal,” Elena said.
“It was the result of long hours spent studying, the passion I have for the subject, and the support I received from my friends and family every step of the way.”
The medal is awarded to students graduating from a Charles Sturt Masters course with a GPA of 6.75 or higher, and have completed at least 64 points of their studies with the University.
Elena achieved a GPA of 6.82, and despite this prestigious honour this was just one of the highlights of her studies.
“My greatest reward from the Master of Cyber Security was the knowledge I received and the friendships I made along the way,” she said.
Studying a Master of Cyber Security was a natural progression of her career in IT, according to Elena.
“I have always been working in the IT industry and after taking a break to have kids, I decided that it was a good time to rethink my career path,” she said.
“This new study path gave me an opportunity to not only learn valuable skills in a new career, but also gave me confidence in applying for the work opportunities I would otherwise not have been considered for.”
While her career path was an easy choice to make, the road to get there was far less simple.
“I come from a non-English speaking background, moving from Ukraine to New Zealand when I was 12 years old,” Elena said.
“This experience taught me to be resilient, which let me thrive in different environments. For instance, through most of high school I not only had to learn a new language but also the schoolwork itself.
“I am also a mum who has returned to the workforce after taking time off to raise children, which for many women who make the choice to raise a family and get back into their career is a challenge, especially for women in IT.”
Receiving a Postgraduate University Medal is the latest of several accolades Elena has received over the course of her studies.
“I was awarded a Best Security Student award by Australian Women in Security network in 2021,” she said.
“Two of my class members and I have also set up an unofficial Discord channel called CSU Cyber Hangout for students who are studying cyber security, and that’s now grown to more than 800 members.
“Then in 2022, I established the Charles Sturt Cyber Security Society, where I was the founding member and first president.”
In addition to this, Elena also volunteers for the NSW Cyber Ambassador program, where she travels to various schools to inspire high school students to consider a career in cyber security.
The heavy workload is challenging, but one she hopes to inspire others to follow by sharing some sage words of advice.
“Support others around you how you’d like to be supported, and share any and all knowledge you have,” Elena said.
“This learning journey is so much better when you are growing together with other likeminded people.”
Elena hopes to continue to develop her role in cyber security education and transition into cyber threat intelligence in the near future.
“I view my graduation as another step in my long learning journey,” she said.
“I am very excited to celebrate this achievement and I’m looking forward to what’s ahead.”