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Single Mom and First-Generation Student Honored Alongside Area CEOs

Digital forensics major Courtney Kanopka takes advantage of personal initiative and a burgeoning field of study to be included among inspiring "Women to Watch."

ALBANY, N.Y. (March 2, 2016) — Courtney Kanopka knows she is not yet the CEO of a high tech company or the CIO of a major research center, but she is thrilled to find herself in their honored company — one of ten Capital Region “Women to Watch” in science and technology.

UAlbany digital forensics bachelor's student

Courtney Kanopka exhibits one key item of her study in digital forensics — the mobile device — in a forensics classroom in the Business Building. (Photo by Mark Schmidt)

The Times Union’s E-Edition magazine Women@Work also points out that the single mother of two, headed for a bachelor’s degree in digital forensics, has a story that “will inspire.”

“It’s quite an honor that they recognized me and chose me, and I admit I was very surprised — even a bit shocked,” said Courtney, who works full-time as a technology specialist for New York State in addition to being a dean’s list student at UAlbany.

“I am the youngest woman in the midst of all of the CEOs and CIOs in the magazine. I have always worked two jobs and went to college to provide for my family. Not having to work two jobs was a major reason I decided to go back to college.”

She earned an associate’s degree in information technology in 2008 from Bryant & Stratton. Several years later, she decided she would take some online classes in cyber-security. Then she happened to hear a talk by Sanjay Goel, associate professor and chair of UAlbany’s Department of Information Technology Management (ITM).

“He spoke about a new 'digital forensics' bachelor’s degree program offered at the University,” said Courtney. “What he said intrigued me. Cybersecurity, which is a big field now, has always been my passion, and digital forensics is the program of the future. Cyber-attacks happen every day and the number of them will grow rapidly every year. There is excellent job security in the digital forensics field.”

Courtney says she has loved the UAlbany experience since starting here in 2015, expressing gratitude to ITM lecturer Fabio Auffant for mentorship and knowledge about different digital forensic tools and procedures.

“I only wish I enrolled in UAlbany right after high school,” she said. “I am the first one in my family to go to college, so no one knew which colleges I should attend back then.”

After her scheduled graduation in May 2017, Courtney wants pursue an MBA in Cybersecurity to further advance her career.

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