Cyber Security Club Interviews Top White House Official

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By Abi Baker , Editor In Chief

Flint Hill’s Cyber Security Club welcomed its inaugural Cyber Series speaker, Chris DeRusha, last week via zoom for an interview led by junior, Rachel Pao. DeRusha is the Federal Chief Information Security Officer for the Executive Office of the President and during the conversation covered the journey of his career, day-to-day operations, and gave advice for high schoolers who hope to pursue a career path similar to his. The opportunity for this conversation originated from a connection history teacher Kristoff Kohlhagen had and helped coordinate. Mr. Kohlhagen wanted to give the already successful, and nationally ranked, cyber security team a chance to ask questions of someone at the highest level of the field. 

 

DeRusha’s role in President Biden’s administration consists of managing federal and state government programs, coordinating cybersecurity operations, as well as developing and implementing strategies related to cybersecurity. 

 

Vice President of the club, Rachel Pao, moderated the discussion and brought up pertinent issues that are currently relevant to the US cyber ecosystem. Among the topics were, data privacy, big-tech, the future of cybersecurity, and current security issues. DeRusha reminded students that anything posted online can never be fully erased, which is why privacy, in a highly digitized world, doesn’t necessarily exist anymore. Pao stressed, “It can prevent you from getting a job, getting a security clearance, and so much more.”  

 

He reassured the club members that it is ok to not have a career path in mind, Pao points out that at one time, “even the top CISO in the United States had no clue he was going to pursue a career in security.” 

 

“Interests, mindsets, and opportunities change and that is normal. Mr. DeRusha did not pursue an education and career in security right out of the gate. He found his way in and realized he had a passion for it after college.” 

 

Senior, Grant Host, was among one of the club members who felt a personal connection to DeRusha, he said, “the insight he gave on the future of cybersecurity was very thought-provoking and changed some of the ways I viewed the field.” 

 

DeRusha encouraged members to continue competing in competitions such as Cyber Patriot because those teach foundational skills needed for a future career in cyber. “He opened our eyes to so many exciting (and sometimes scary) things and I am just so grateful he took the time out of his busy day to speak with our club.”