Vice President of Cybersecurity
San Antonio Chamber of Commerce
Who was your favorite teacher?
Oh gosh, I have a few favorite teachers, so I hope if they read this: All of you were important to me! Mrs. Bordes is one of my favorites for sure – she taught our high school Russian class at Brackenridge High School, and ensured that our class was part of the AP Russian Pilot project. Without Mrs. Bordes, I would have never won our State Competition for Spoken Russian, lived in Russia for a month as a high school student, or applied to Smith College. And now we’re both Smith alums, which is so special. My other favorite teacher was Mrs. Guest at Neal Elementary. She was our GT teacher, and we had her for two years back to back. Mrs. Guest encouraged us to be engaged in our classes, however… I remember how I used to get away with reading books under my desk while Mrs. Guest was teaching because I was listening to her lessons and able to answer questions about the subject. I guess it was practice for multi-tasking in the future! I loved to read and write, and I’m thankful for all of our teachers that pushed us to embrace our nerdiness.
What is your proudest accomplishment?
That one is easy – working for President Obama at the White House. Bringing my family to the Oval Office to meet the President was one of the highlights of my life because of everything they sacrificed to get me to where I am today. My grandfather picked cotton, and then retired from the railroad. My grandmother was a nurse. My dad works in a sign shop with welding and neon. My mom works at a small charter school. My brother served in the United States Marine Corps. None of us came from an elite upbringing or carried any social, political, or financial clout. Graduating from Smith College was a gamechange for me; so was earning my Masters from The George Washington University. There were so many emotions that day because the path to that moment was so clear and surreal. I was beyond proud to bring the five of us to the White House on behalf of our entire family. It is something I will never forget.
What is your favorite thing about your career?
Connecting people and learning new things. I learn something new about technology, innovation, or cybersecurity every day. From startups to educators to students to historical background to policy decisions and business strategy, budgets, the list goes on and on. Soaking up all the information helps me build bridges between people who are working on similar projects, interested in the same research topics, or striving towards the same goals. The look in someone’s face or the relief in someone’s voice when I can say, “I know someone!” is just the best feeling in the world.
I also love helping people in my hometown because it’s my unique perspective and lived experiences that can see the gaps, the opportunities, and the solutions that others might ignore. I hope that my willingness to help others inspires others to learn more, do more, and give back, even when it is not easy.
Lastly, I’ve got to admit – one of my favorite things about my career is its twists and turns. It’s been an interesting road, and I love seeing people’s reactions when I say that I work in cybersecurity. We don’t have enough women or minorities in national security, cybersecurity, or defense innovation. I really enjoy spending time with students of all ages, and sharing information that will help them progress in their careers/studies faster than I have.
Why is education in SAISD important to you?
Education in SAISD is important to me because I am an SAISD alum. I’ve been there, and I can relate to students, teachers, and parents. I care about our students and our district. There are many opportunities beyond our front doors, but we need people to share roadmaps and how-to guides with us. I didn’t have a lot of those resources growing up, and I want to ensure that students have access to all the information possible to learn about the world around them.
Students should be excited to learn and grow. Students should be encouraged to ask questions, and challenge the status quo. It’s our job to show students that education extends beyond the classroom, and I believe that we can provide those opportunities and examples to all of our students (not just the top 10%). Understanding bureaucracies, power dynamics, socioeconomic factors, intersectionality, fiscal budgets, and civic engagement can change a student’s life.
Do you know what the most important thing that a student can learn during their time at SAISD? It’s how to find their voice, and how to use their power to create change – right where they are, at whatever age they are. That’s why education is important. We want students to leave SAISD with a solid foundation, with a guiding light, and with a connection to our community that will motivate them to give back someday, too.