Today Magazine Winter 2020 - Page 10

Meet Professor Cindy Casey Computer Information Science Program Coordinator By: Deb O'Reilly There ’s never been a better time to study computer information science. Jobs in computer and information technology are growing faster than average, and with advancements in artificial intelligence, opportunities are expected to rise. * “In cybersecurity alone, there are currently more than 500,000 job openings in the U.S. – 14,000 in Pennsylvania,” said Cindy Casey, who runs GMercyU’s Computer Information Science Program. “A degree in CIS allows students the flexibility to specialize in a number of fields such as programming, game design, web design and multimedia, digital forensics, cybersecurity, and system administration. Perhaps the most compelling reason to major in CIS is that today, every job is a technology job.” Casey also feels strongly that CIS is a field accessible to anyone interested. “No student should ever be told they can’t do something they dream of doing,” she said, a belief informed by her own personal experiences. Casey is currently working on a doctoral degree, and she offers her expertise to law enforcement and the private sector through consultation work – in addition to her work at GMercyU. Yet the road to where she is today was not without some bumps. “ Perhaps the most compelling reason to major in CIS is that today, every job is a technology job. ” After completing the ninth grade, Casey dropped out of school and began working as a machinist. “As a child, I liked to write with invisible ink and make up secret codes. I was also always fascinated by machines and electronics,” she explained. She later obtained her GED and continued on to community college where she was in the honors 8 TODAY program, then transferred to a four-year college to study philosophy. “I remember feeling so excited about transferring, but it didn’t last long,” Casey reflected. “The department head, who was my advisor, looked over my records and said he had to ‘question the validity of my high GPA [from community college] based on the fact that I never went past the ninth grade.’ I was devastated and defeated. I later applied to, and was accepted in the honors program at La Salle University, but never completed my studies because of finances.” Then, her youngest son was born with disabilities. His care required her to work from home, so she taught herself web design and graphic arts. “Realizing I could not prepare financially for a future of care for him by working from home, I went back to school. After researching emerging careers, I selected computing. I knew it would be challenging, but with support from my mother and children, I was determined to achieve my goals.” Despite life’s challenges, Casey earned an associate, bachelor’s, and master’s "Girls Who Code" Club at GMercyU degree, in addition to two master’s-level certificates (see sidebar). Today she is working on her doctorate in Artificial Intelligence. No surprise, Casey’s students have found her background and current workload inspiring. “She was, and always will be, my inspiration,” said recent CIS grad Jenny Kyoung ’19, who is now a Program Manager for Gateway Ticketing Systems, Inc. “The way she takes on everything within her career is incredible, and I’m always in awe of how she manages it all. I knew I was learning from the best, and I can confidently say that my future proves that.” Casey’s commitment to her students has made her a great cultural fit at GMercyU, where she has taught since 2017. “One of the exceptional qualities of the GMercyU experience is the personal attention we give to our students,” she said. "The professors in the CIS program bring real-world experiences to the classroom and spend countless hours of their own time helping students stay on the cutting edge of technology. Students are given opportunities to volunteer, Know of a girl (aged 12-16) who wants to learn how to code? Cindy Casey runs the popular Girls Who Code after-school club at GMercyU. The mission of Girls Who Code is to close the gender gap in technology where females are underrepresented. The club meets every Tuesday afternoon from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the CIS Conference Room, St. Bernard Hall, Room 15. It is free and snacks are provided. Students do not need their own computer to participate. For more information, contact Cindy Casey at casey.cindy@gmercyu.edu.