Alumni Spotlight: Dr. Kellep A. Charles ’89
Dr. Kellep A. Charles ’89 received a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science at North Carolina A&T State University, a Master of Science degree in telecommunication management at University of Maryland, and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in cybersecurity at Capitol Technology University. He has been working as an intelligence security analysis for the U.S. government in the Washington, DC area and also serves as a professor of computer science and cybersecurity at multiple universities. Kellep is the Executive Editor of SecurityOrb, LLC, an organization that promotes the awareness of information security, digital privacy, internet safety, and STEM-related issues.
What inspired you to pursue a career in cybersecurity?
As a kid and throughout my life, I have always been intrigued with electronics and technology. I found myself always taking apart my toys to understand how they worked with a 50% success rate in putting them back together. So needless to say, I did not have many properly functional toys growing up. It wasn’t until 1983 when I saw the movie War Games and got my first computer (Commodore Vic 20) that I truly realized my path in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM).
Upon completing my degree, joining the workforce, and witnessing firsthand the challenges our country and agencies were facing on an hourly basis in protecting our critical infrastructure, cybersecurity became more of a mission than a job for me; it provided a higher purpose. Much like the thin blue line of law enforcement or the thin red line of firefighters, the thin digital line of cybersecurity professionals has increasingly been recognized and appreciated as an important and meaningful task within the appropriate circles.
How do you think your time at Kellenberg Memorial helped to prepare you for your studies and career?
My time at Kellenberg Memorial helped me prepare for my studies and career in numerous ways. For example, the academic program truly equipped me for the next level after graduation. I was able to compete from day one which was an important aspect during my first semester and embarking on new experiences. Furthermore, the diversity of the student body and the interactions with my classmates from various backgrounds I personally experienced at Kellenberg Memorial provided a sound foundation of understanding and acceptance I used throughout my life, including in my career.
Do you have any advice for current students or young alumni who are interested in pursuing careers in cybersecurity?
First of all, the cybersecurity field is a growing field with a strong need for cybersecurity partitioners. In fact, as of today, there are 3.5 million cybersecurity positions open globally and there is an expectation that number will reach even higher by 2022. If cybersecurity is something you are interested in pursuing please do your research as there are many facets associated with this career from highly technical to project management-related tasks. Additionally, if cybersecurity (or any other area for that matter) is a field you are truly interested in, go for it. Don’t ever let anyone steer you away from what you really want. Always aim high – even if you miss, you won’t fall far.
Do you have any favorite teachers/club moderators/coaches from your time at Kellenberg Memorial?
Teachers and coaches that I appreciated and who left a lasting impression on me during my time at Kellenberg Memorial and after were Coach Hughes (Football/Wrestling), Ms. Albano, and Ms. Kosakowski. They used the power of positive reinforcement which can boost self-confidence as well as motivate a person. I did not realize it fully at that time but later came to appreciate the words and discussions I shared with them. The power of positive reinforcement is a trait that has been instilled in me and I still practice it today with my kids, friends, and students.