ESET Announces 2021 Winners of Women in Cybersecurity Scholarship Awards

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SAN DIEGO, CALIF – June 9, 2021ESET, a global leader in IT security, today announced the three winners of the sixth annual ESET Women in Cybersecurity Scholarships. The $5,000 scholarships (totaling $15,000) are designed to boost representation of women in cybersecurity and are granted to women who are currently graduate or undergraduate students in the United States and majoring in a STEM field of study.

The 2021 winners are: 

Erin Liu of Chino Hills, Calif. Liu plans to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to complete a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science and Engineering. Her dream job is to be an engineer with a focus in the field of information technology, such as cybersecurity or computer science. 

“For my generation, knowledge of cybersecurity is a necessity,” said Liu. “When I graduate and secure a career in the cyber defense industry, I will strive to be a stronger advocate for females in STEM. I feel that my unique approach to scientific research that combines the artistic vision, inspired by my experiences in music and painting, with the ethical discipline, instilled in me by my four years in the Navy Junior Reserves Officer Training Corps (NJROTC) program, will offer valuable insights into the cybersecurity field and lead to fruitful contributions in the cyber and computer science research frontiers. I intend to push every limit to someday see a world where everyone can be safe in cyberspace."

Jay Connolly of Phoenix, Ariz. Connolly will be attending the University of Pennsylvania to complete her master’s degree in information technology with a focus on cybersecurity. Her dream job is to work for NASA in the field of cybersecurity. 

“Since I have autism, I never thought I would be able to attend an Ivy League college like Penn,” said Connelly. “Through a combination of hard work, determination, resilience and the support of others around me, I earned my bachelor’s degree at the University of California, Santa Cruz and am now looking forward to attending the Penn Engineering Master’s Degree Program in fall 2021. I want to show other special ed children that it is possible to follow and achieve your dreams – and who knows, you might end up in an Ivy League! I am interested in using my knowledge to teach learning disabled and underprivileged children how to code and to show them the opportunities open to them in the science and technology fields as we transform globally.”

Xena Olsen of Deerfield, Ill. A first generation Mexican-American, Xena intends to complete her doctorate in cybersecurity at Marymount University in Virginia. Her dream job is to build and lead a threat intelligence program.

“As a first-generation Mexican-American, I have learned to forge ahead despite adversity, believe in myself no matter what, and never give up. In 2017, I founded the Women in Information Security Study Group to funnel opportunities to other women looking to build a career in cybersecurity. After completing a master’s degree and seven GIAC certifications, I believe that I possess the necessary intellectual rigor to continue pursuing a cybersecurity career. I strive to set an excellent example for future generations of women technologists. Ultimately, it is my dream to inspire women to pursue a cybersecurity career by completing a cybersecurity doctorate and through my continued community participation. I believe it is important to show future women technologists that they can be as technical as they want as well as successfully make a career change. One mantra that helps me face each day with dignity and grace is a quote by Steve Martin: ‘Be so good they can't ignore you.’ I embody this quote every day.”

The ESET Women in Cybersecurity Scholarship is one of the many initiatives ESET supports to increase diversity in the workplace and in cybersecurity. ESET also helps host the annual Cyber Boot Camp and supports a number of philanthropic organizations including Girls Inc., Promises2Kids, Feeding San Diego and more.

“Women are still an underrepresented group in the STEM fields, so we were pleased by the number of talented women applying for the ESET scholarship,” said Celeste Blodgett, vice president of human resources, ESET.  “Cybersecurity continues to be a major challenge for private and public sectors alike so building the cybersecurity talent pool with highly qualified individuals is essential to keeping our businesses, governments and infrastructure safe and secure. We know that Erin, Jay and Xena will do their part to help protect our vital assets as well as encourage more women to pursue a career in cybersecurity or STEM.” 

About the ESET Women in Cybersecurity Scholarship

The ESET Women in Cybersecurity Scholarship was launched in 2016 to help support and encourage women who aspire to have a career in information security. A recent (ISC)2 Cybersecurity Workforce Study found that the actual percentage of women in the cybersecurity workplace has remained close to constant over the last three years, with women making up approximately 25% of the security workforce. To address this issue, a majority of survey respondents said that they believe the best way to increase women’s representation in the field was to encourage women to pursue STEM degrees in college.

Applicants must be a woman enrolled in or accepted to an accredited undergraduate or graduate program in the United States with a minimum cumulative 3.0 GPA. More information about the application process can be found here.

About ESET

For more than 30 years, ESET® has been developing industry-leading IT security software and services to protect businesses, critical infrastructure and consumers worldwide from increasingly sophisticated digital threats. From endpoint and mobile security to endpoint detection and response, as well as encryption and multifactor authentication, ESET’s high-performing, easy-to-use solutions unobtrusively protect and monitor 24/7, updating defenses in real time to keep users safe and businesses running without interruption. Evolving threats require an evolving IT security company that enables the safe use of technology. This is backed by ESET’s R&D centers worldwide, working in support of our shared future. For more information, visit or follow us on LinkedInFacebook, and Twitter.