Antonio Taylor, a self-professed nontraditional student, has a unique story behind his enrollment in the MLS in Cybersecurity and Data Privacy program here at CSU. 

Antonio comes from a security background, but his niche is physical security as opposed to cybersecurity. Only after many years of a professional career in service – and after turning 40 years old – did he earn a BA in Criminal Justice Administration from Tiffin University. He began his current role, Security Supervisor in the Police Department at Cleveland State, while only one semester away from graduation. Throughout the years, he became an expert in leadership, team building, report writing, investigations, communications, and emergency management. Still, he was curious about learning even more. It turned out that the Bachelor’s wasn’t quite enough.

Working with the Staff Development Program at his new workplace, he decided to earn a Master’s Degree in Public Administration. “I thought that was it for me,” he says, until he contemplated making the jump from physical security to cybersecurity. After a little research, again with the help of the Staff Development Program at CSU, he enrolled in the online MLS in Cybersecurity and Data Privacy. “There are jobs out there that seem interesting. As you get older and a little bit wiser, cybersecurity may be an avenue to go down. I want to be well-rounded, and I like options.” He’s not wrong, since the cybersecurity industry continues to be one of the most critical and rapidly growing industries. The demand for cybersecurity professionals is only growing.


Antonio is also interested in applying his security perspective to technology. For example, securing your physical safety is one matter, but how do you secure your cell phone data? What is protected and unprotected? When do constitutional rights enter the discussion? Since the broadening of technology hits on criminal justice, too, he was particularly drawn to the gray area between personal privacy and keeping society well-protected. 

In the Cyber Law course, he learned that a cell phone conversation is never private thanks to third-party carriers. He was also shocked to learn that the United States has no federal regulation or law on cybersecurity. “You’ll be amazed that the average person doesn’t know, and you wouldn’t know it until you get into the legal realm. We know what the problem is, but we’re not any closer to solving it than we were five or 10 years ago.”


As far as the program infrastructure, “the professors are great,” Antonio assures. “These are cybersecurity experts. They’ve created cybersecurity networks.” One of his teachers in particular, Spence Witten, has continually impressed him with his expertise. “Spence is a genius!” he exclaims sincerely. Antonio identifies those lab-style classes as particularly immersive. 

The flexibility is helpful, too. It means that the program can be personalized to an individual’s needs. Since Antonio currently has no financial dependents, he prioritizes his studies and takes two classes per semester. He recognizes that other students who he has met in the program, however, only take one class to leave time for family obligations. That is the beauty of an online program: it’s completely up to you and what works best for your lifestyle and schedule. 


Currently in the capstone, Antonio is eager to explore job possibilities after his upcoming graduation. One option is to meld the two sides of security, becoming a physical security officer at a cybersecurity center, essentially protecting every facet of the space. Another option is compliance, which he believes is the MLS program’s strong suit. 

Antonio’s favorite aspect of the program is noting the diverse perspectives of his peers. “You’re all bringing different backgrounds to the field, and that helps with networking. I’m a nontraditional student. Everybody’s path is different, and I’m the prime example.” From librarians to adjunct professors to paralegals, the program can help anyone, from recent graduates to established professionals choosing to go back to school. Seeing the range of students who have decided to grow their career through the online MLS is amazing, but this third advanced degree might really be it this time. “When I graduate in May, I’m going to retire as a student,” he says with a laugh. “I’m going to celebrate.”