Student on a main street in Scotland

Study abroad crystalizes student's career plans in cybersecurity

Natalie Sylvester and her classmates broadened their knowledge of cybersecurity and explored career options in Scotland while immersing themselves in a new culture.
Along with exploring Scottish culture, Natalie Sylvester found the niche within cybersecurity she wants to pursue.

When Natalie Sylvester enrolled in a course that included 10 days at Abertay University in Scotland, she hit the higher education trifecta: She deepened her knowledge of the cybersecurity analytics and operations major, solidified her career plans, and met the Scots people and experienced their way of life. 

“Before this course, I wasn’t sure what area I wanted to go into because with cybersecurity, there are endless opportunities," she said. "I’ve always been really interested in forensics, and at Abertay University, we explored forensics. The students there talked highly of these programs, so it showed me that a career in cyber forensics is what I plan to do." 

The cross-disciplinary course in information technology, criminal justice and psychology exposed the rising third-year student to new facets of her field of study. 

“This course was focused on criminal justice and gaming, so we were able to attend different lectures in those disciplines," she said. "We heard from graduate students who were conducting research in criminal justice, and we also heard from a psychology professional about her research." 

This is the second course Sylvester enrolled in at Abington with a short-term study abroad component. Last year, her first venture outside of the United States took her to Germany for a combined business and technology class. 

“I chose these courses because I thought it would be a cool way to experience another culture and see a different part of the world, while also learning," she said. "Meeting people from another nation is special because it really allows you to be immersed into a new culture and see how different things are in another country."  


Students with a flag in front of twin horse statues

The Abington students and faculty found the Scots to be welcoming while they explored the rich history and stunning landscapes of Dundee, Scotland, and its surroundings.

“We did a lot of different tours, which I loved because it showed us history that we don’t hear much about," Sylvester said. "We saw castles and learned a lot about the royals who lived there and what their lives were like. We also did some hiking, which I loved!” 

The cross-disciplinary course Sylvester enrolled in is known as an embedded program, which features short-term travel abroad during the semester breaks. Students are accompanied by Abington faculty, and scholarships and financial aid may be available to defray costs of the travel portion of the course. Recent embedded programs have included social media in Jamaica, technology in China and Germany, and climate change in Iceland. 

“Traveling through the embedded programs that Abington offers is truly a once in a lifetime experience, so if you get the chance, you should definitely take it,” Sylvester said. 

Since returning from Scotland, she is using the summer to gear up for her third year at Abington. The South Jersey resident is a student athlete who competes on the track and field team and in club cheerleading. She’s also a senator in the Student Government Association and a member of two honor societies, the I’m First program for students who are the first in their family to attend college, and the Cybersecurity and IT Student Association.