Southeast Missouri State University cybersecurity graduates are in high demand in
today’s workforce and are quickly finding success among top U.S. companies dedicated
to ensuring the integrity of customer data.
JoLynn Hallmark and Jeremy Wiedner hit the ground running after graduating from Southeast,
using their skills to protect networks and data from attack, damage or unauthorized
“They reflect the culture of excellence that is embedded in the cybersecurity program
here at Southeast,” said Dr. Vijay Anand, director of Southeast’s cybersecurity program
and associate professor of computer science.
Hallmark, of Andover, Kansas, earned her Bachelor of Science in cybersecurity at Southeast
in December 2016. She now lives in Reston, Virginia, working as a security officer
at AIG. Wiedner, of Imperial, Missouri, earned his Bachelor of Science in cybersecurity
in May 2014, and was a member of the first graduating class of cybersecurity majors.
He now lives in Atlanta, Georgia, working as a manager for the Cyber Threat Analysis
Center (CTAC) at Secureworks.
As a manager, Wiedner oversees the work of 15 frontline analysts and interacts with
many of the company’s 4,300 international clients to ensure satisfaction and solve
problems. He is involved with process improvement and driving change within the company
to better serve clients.
Wiedner also serves as the primary recruiting manager for the CTAC, which gives him
the opportunity to see the quality of employees that cybersecurity programs are producing.
“I have looked at hundreds of resumes and interviewed dozens of students from cybersecurity
programs all over the country,” he said. “Since I know the value of the cybersecurity
program at Southeast compared to that of other schools, I have already hired three
other graduates from the program and will continue to hire more. Southeast is among
the best programs out there.”
Wiedner is not alone in his thinking, as many Southeast cybersecurity alumni often
return to help employers recruit graduates from the program. Anand says Southeast
has become a preferred University among top companies and corporations for recruiting
employees in cybersecurity and cyber defense.
“These types of companies always recruit from Ivy League universities, but they are
also coming to Southeast. Our students are that good,” Anand said.
During Wiedner’s job search, many of his interviews resulted in the networking Anand
did to draw attention to the new program’s students. Wiedner said he landed his position
at Secureworks through his involvement with Southeast’s Cyber Defense Club.
“Secureworks had a large presence at the Midwest Regional Collegiate Cyber Defense
Competition, where our Cyber Defense Club was competing, and there was a career fair,”
Wiedner explained. “I was recruited into Secureworks from competing.”
Hallmark said she secured her position after serving as a summer intern at AIG. Now,
she monitors security devices and investigates alerts to see if true security incidents
have occurred. She is also responsible for investigating phishing emails that are
sent to employees, ensuring the proper measures are taken to mitigate the risk. She
also worked on a side project that required design and development of workflows that
the analysts use every day in a new ticketing system.
“That was a big moment, designing a whole new workflow,” Hallmark said. “That made
the process more automatic and efficient.”
Constant learning and challenges have been the keys in making Hallmark’s and Wiedner’s
careers in cybersecurity so appealing to them.
“I wanted a job that combined my passions and skills. It’s exciting to learn how modern
technologies work and how to make them secure,” Hallmark said. “It’s fun and challenging,
and I work with some great people who make coming to work every day enjoyable.”
Wiedner added, “We (Secureworks) are number one at what we do. We get to not only
see where the cybersecurity industry is going but also get to help drive it as well.”
He hopes one day to become a leader in the cybersecurity industry.
“Starting as a Secureworks analyst was the best way to get there,” he said. “I received
two promotions within two and a half years, and now I manage analysts for the top
managed security services provider in the world.”
Both alumni credit Southeast with giving them the knowledge and skills necessary for
success in their field. Both have also served as leaders of the University’s Cyber
Defense Club, which has won five straight state championships and has regularly advanced
to regional competitions.
“I was able to start the Cyber Defense Club, and through this opportunity, I was able
to further my organizational and leadership skills,” Wiedner said. “I sought opportunities
to promote the cybersecurity program, and those helped increase and grow my ability
to interact with clients.”
Hallmark, who was the only female member and captain of Southeast’s 2016 Cyber Defense
Team, also credits the variety of clubs offered at Southeast as key to her college
“The friends I made through Ignite student ministry helped me find success away from
my job by learning what the most important parts of life are,” she said.
Hallmark advises Southeast students to get involved and set high goals.
“Live in the moment, but don’t forget why you’re there. Know your top three priorities
in life and make sure your schedule aligns with those priorities,” she said.
Wiedner encourages students to be passionate and willing to put in time learning and
seeking knowledge outside of the course curriculum.
“The industry needs inquisitive individuals with strong attention to detail that are
willing to learn and explore on their own,” he said.
Hallmark and Wiedner are continuing to develop goals within cybersecurity. Wiedner
has recently obtained Reverse Engineering Malware certification in preparation for
a possible move to the Counter Threat Unit at Secureworks. Hallmark would like to
become an incident responder or a security architect.
When not protecting data, Hallmark enjoys outdoor activities such as hiking and kayaking.
She also coaches a little league girls’ basketball team, the Lady Unicorns.
Wiedner enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter, and they also like outdoor
activities, including fishing and kayaking. He does research in his home lab and spins
poi, a Maori word for “ball on a string.”