Margueritte Saboungi, a 3rd year student at Western Sydney University, is the inaugural recipient of Shearwater Solution’s Katie Duczmal Memorial Scholarship.
The scholarship is the centrepiece of Shearwater’s commitment to encourage greater female participation in the cybersecurity industry.
As one of two female students in the initial cohort undertaking the Bachelor of Cyber Security and Behaviour degree, Margueritte is a true trailblazer. She was instrumental in founding the university’s Cyber Security Association (CSA). The association provides students a space to share knowledge, collaborate on projects and network with industry professionals. As CSA President, Margueritte organises regular events whilst providing information to fellow students about certifications, workshops and updates on everything happening in the cyber world.
Margueritte has an exemplary academic record. During the course of her studies, she has developed many of the technical skills required by those in cyber security, as well as gaining an understanding of psychology.
“As far as I know, this Western Sydney University degree is the only one that incorporates the ‘behaviour’ aspect within it. I believe that in cyber security you need the technical skills, but you also need to get into the mind of the hacker and understand what’s happening,”
“The awareness you gain from psychology can help deter attacks. With psychology we can help implement strategies to protect us from all kinds of cyber-attacks,” she said.
This initiative from Shearwater awards one final-year female student the opportunity to undertake a paid internship, during which they receive extensive on the job training in a variety of different cybersecurity functions. These include penetration testing, security operations and compliance consulting.
The scholarship also reimburses the student for the tuition costs of their final year of study.
Margueritte’s demonstrable enthusiasm for cybersecurity stems from a childhood love of ‘Kim Possible’, the animated series about a cheerleader who, along with her computer-wiz friend Wade, saves the world from supervillains. More recently, participation in numerous hackathons, including CySCA (Cyber Security Challenge Australia), have helped develop her skills, standing her in good stead as she pursues her dream of becoming a penetration tester.
When asked what, as a female, motivated her interest in cybersecurity, Margueritte stated: “Since birth I always went to all-girls schools. So I have always been surrounded by girls and that gave me a sense of empowerment and a feeling that I am no different from anyone else. That was definitely beneficial to me because it helped me become the way I am now”.
Despite suffering a hearing impediment, Margueritte has not let that get in the way of her ambitions. Her positive attitude to life has won her the admiration of her teachers.
“Margueritte has a wonderful sense of humour and is the main ‘organiser’ in the cybersecurity program across the university… In spite of whatever is thrown her way, she always overcomes these challenges to acquire the skills and do whatever it takes to obtain the result that she desires. She is confident, playful and committed. I have yet to see her stress about anything – this is all too rare a quality and one that I am envious of. She is a trusted friend and leader (among fellow students)”, according to Professor Alana Maurushat.
This scholarship is offered in memory of Katie Duczmal, a principal consultant in cyber security for Shearwater Solutions. The scholarship aims to support female students who have an interest in a career in cyber security and who are in their final year of study.