Kenee’ Shepherd realized fairly quickly that being a medical professional was not for her. Luckily, she had the opportunity to pivot career paths thanks to an MLS from CSU.

The medical office where she worked happened to be completing their medical health records at the time, and the process interested her much more. She applied for a related program and then transferred to Cleveland State University in 2017. Kenee’ studied health information management technology, was accepted into the engineering department, and finished her Bachelor of Science in Engineering. But she wasn’t done with CSU.

Kenee’ Shepherd

The Benefits of an MLS

She saw that the law school was offering a Cybersecurity and Data Privacy program online, and knew that the MLS would complement her degree and her goals for the future. “The field is so regulatory and with so much compliance that, to me, it was the best step to take.”

Kenee’ comes from a computer science background, from which the Cybersecurity and Data Privacy MLS is a logical next step. “I like it much better,” she says with a laugh. Computer science is so broad and so much theory that it is hard to be a true expert in it, whereas, “When I had a chance to do security, it narrowed down that IT scope and I actually understood and knew what they were talking about and what they were doing. The processes, disaster recovery, incident response reports – I knew all of it because we talked about it in class.”

Her skills allow her to navigate many different departments with finesse and basic foundational understanding. “It’s absolutely amazing. I love the online program at Cleveland State University.” With the flexibility and time back, she can work her full-time job then get home and read, do assignments, and catch up. She appreciates that professors give students a week to get assignments in. “I love it. I wish all programs were online like that!”

The CSU Experience

When asked about any standout courses or professors, Kenee’ immediately had an answer. Professor Brian Ray, she says, the Director of the Center For Cybersecurity And Privacy Protection, is one of her favorite instructors – even though his class was one of the hardest. In that American Law course, Kenee’ had a shift in perspective. “All of the things I thought law was? I was wrong. I learned a lot in his class … it really did set the foundation for my law classes.” 

As for cybersecurity, Kenee’ has taken two classes focused on the more technical aspects of the field. At times, those courses drew upon concepts and skills she had experience with thanks to her undergraduate degree. But when she began to study a more advanced topic, cyber attack methods, she was less proficient. Still, she has enjoyed learning the topic and tackling the challenges. 

Kenee’ is currently working on a major end-of-semester project and says, “We are going to present our projects, and I can’t wait to show what I have and how the cyber attack method can infiltrate systems and steal your data, and how you can protect against it. It’s really interesting!” The program takes effort but is not all-consuming. Kenee’ typically spends a few hours per day on her MLS. It is split between reading and coursework, “But it’s not too tedious that I can’t handle both my job and my assignments,” she assures. 

Career Advancements with CSU

Kenee’ is also currently in the IT Bootcamp, doing two-month rotations through each IT department at Medical Mutual. Then, she will be able to pick her position. “Being in the program and learning what I have so far, I have better ideas and I am better at voicing those ideas using what I’ve learned.”

On the topic of her career, Kenee’ tends to go with the flow. No matter what, however, she sees that her future after this degree is wide-open and full of opportunities. “When I mention that I’m in the Master of Legal Studies program, everyone’s impressed. They tell me that I’m definitely guaranteed a job for life and I have so many options. I can be an IT auditor, I can stay a software developer, I can join the legal compliance department. It’s just so much, and I’m still trying to narrow down what I want to be doing.”

Kenee’ is also a single mother on top of working full-time and earning her degree. The online nature of the program is crucial to her ability to do it all. “I love being able to be there with her, instead of being gone most of the time. And since her daughter is in school, seeing her mother driven to pursue an advanced education and invest in her future, Kenee’ knows that “I just continue to inspire her.”

Advice and Insights

If you are a professional who is on the fence about applying for the MLS at CSU, or attempting to break into the data privacy and cybersecurity industry in any capacity, there are clear and practical reasons to go for it. “Take that next step,” Kenee’ advises. “The only person who will hold you back is yourself. This is a multidisciplinary field. It’s huge, and it’s still growing, so getting in now when you’re one of the first would be the best that you can do moving forward in your career. And you will have a job!”