Published May 20, 2014
By Ty Beaver, Tri-City Herald
Retired FBI agent Jack Slicks presents a J.
Edgar Hoover Memorial Scholarship on Tuesday to Columbia Basin College
student Alicia DeLay.
While working as a waitress Monday night, Columbia Basin
College student Alicia DeLay, 47, was asked by a female customer to tell
DeLay told the woman about how she'd raised three kids
but was looking to start a new career in cybersecurity. She will
graduate with a bachelor's degree in a year, despite taking several
years off to go through a divorce, sell her home and work two jobs.
she was nervous, because she was going to have to make a speech Tuesday
when she accepted a $2,500 scholarship that will help pay for the rest
of her education.
After the customer left, DeLay went to collect the bill.
wrote on the check, beside a $100 tip, 'pursuing your dreams and facing
your fears is the epitome of strength,' " DeLay said Tuesday as she
accepted the J. Edgar Hoover Memorial Scholarship.
scholarship, paid for by the Society of Former Special Agents of the
FBI, is one of only nine awarded each year across the country.
bachelor's degree program in cybersecurity is only completing its first
year, but the scholarship's backers and college officials said DeLay
demonstrates the promise it holds.
"She's very diligent and very
deserving of this award," said D.C. Grant, assistant professor of
computer science and cybersecurity program director.
Rich Cummins and retired FBI agent Jack Slicks, who moved to the
Tri-Cities in the late 1990s to work at Pacific Northwest National
Laboratory, had spoken for months about getting more support for the
The college already has a similar two-year
program that grants an associate degree but received permission last
year from the state to expand it so graduates can earn a bachelor of
applied science degree. Cummins described the track as a combination of
information technology and criminal justice.
DeLay always loved the law and wanted to find a career where she could give back, she said.
"When my kids were introduced to computers, I recognized not only were they tools but weapons," she told the Herald.
cybersecurity programs didn't exist on the West Coast at the time,
DeLay said. That's partially a result of cybersecurity being a
relatively new field in law enforcement, officials said.
"When I left the FBI, there were no cybersecurity teams," Slicks told the Herald. "There was very little being done."
data breaches and cyberespionage are everyday topics. U.S. Attorney
General Eric Holder announced Monday charges against five Chinese
military officials who allegedly hacked into U.S. corporations.
very important we know how to handle those threats," Slicks said,
adding this is the first time the society has awarded the scholarship to
a cybersecurity program.
DeLay pursued paralegal and computer
science associate degrees at the suggestion of a mentor. She earned her
paralegal associate degree several years ago and returned to CBC in
January 2013 when she learned of the new bachelor's degree in
cybersecurity the college was going to offer that fall.
officials said DeLay is a leader among the bachelor's program's nine
other students, while scholarship backers said they were impressed by
her dedication and intensity.
DeLay choked up a bit while giving
her speech Tuesday, but made it through to applause. She isn't done
challenging herself yet, though -- she has a summer internship lined up
that will force her to address her weaknesses.
"I had no clear direction, I just knew where I wanted to arrive," DeLay said.
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