York Solutions, in partnership with Genesys Works – Twin Cities, the Think IT Association, and Wallin Education Partners, is excited to announce the 2019 Think IT Scholarship winners: Brandon Ngo, Latifa Said, Omar Ceesay, and Yingyi Zhou.

As part of the scholarship, these four driven Genesys Works – Twin Cities alumni and current college students will each receive $8,000 to be distributed over two years. But, the Think IT scholarship offers a lot more than financial support. The program is designed to holistically support students: in the classroom, financially, and through career exploration and mentorship. As Think IT scholars, these four will receive personalized professional support and guidance, receive access to college-to-career programs, and get the opportunity to connect with technology and business professionals.

Each of these students has a story worth telling. So, we decided to sit down with each of these esteemed winners to hear – in their own words – how they got to where they are today and where they hope to go next.

In the first of four upcoming features, we are excited to spotlight Brandon Ngo, a junior at the University of Minnesota majoring in Information Technology Infrastructure Security. As a Class of 2016 Genesys Works young professional, Brandon interned at Data Recognition Corporation (DRC). And, we have to add, he made such a strong impression as a Genesys Works Young Professional that he returned to DRC for the next three summers as an intern. This summer he’ll be interning at Egan Company as a Systems Support Intern. In the words of Genesys Works College Specialist, Britney Hayes: “Brandon won this award because of his passion for leadership and selfless dedication to giving back to the community. He seeks to motivate, inspire, and influence others through his time and service.”

Now, here’s Brandon in his own words:

Q: What was your reaction to receiving this scholarship?

Brandon Ngo: I was super happy! The first thing that I did was call my mom. We celebrated over FaceTime and she told me how proud of me she was. I then called my dad, and he was also super excited. By the end of the day, my cheeks hurt because I was smiling so much.

Q: What is the most exciting aspect to you about the Think IT scholarship?

BN: The most exciting aspect about the Think IT scholarship is that you are paired with a mentor. I am huge on self-development and having a mentor shows me what I could potentially become in the future. Also, with a mentor, you are able to gain a new perspective in the corporate world and on professional development.

Q: What excites you about Information Technology?

BN: Something that excites me about IT is that it is a growing and broad field. For example, I am going into the IT security. There are many different aspects in security such as ethical hacking, network security, infrastructure security, application security, cloud security, and IoT security. I am going into infrastructure security and hope to become a security engineer after college. Going more in-depth, IT is exciting because I continue to learn and that’s what I think life is all about: learning. I continue to want to learn to be the best I can be.

Q: What are you passionate about?

BN: I am passionate about being a leader. How I define leader is different from how others define a leader: it’s a person who is of service to others and has the opportunity to motivate, inspire and influence others. Through trying to become a leader, I am more involved with my community (and student organizations) to try to make a difference in my community.

Q: What is your favorite memory from Genesys Works summer training?

BN: My favorite memory from summer training was suiting up every day. It made me feel more confident and gave me a head start in what to expect in the corporate world. I remember I was suited up for an event and the receptionist said that I walked in with a lot of confidence. I then apologized for it, but she said, “No, don’t be. Own it. You look amazing.” It made me feel so happy.

Q: What advice would you give to students as they finish up their GW internships and look towards college and postsecondary plans?

BN: [My advice] is to stay in contact with [Genesys Works]. As a college student, you are in a powerful position where others really do care and want to help you. What I will say about college is, yes, grades are important, but they are not the most important. College is what you make out of it – be involved. Also, it’s okay if you do not know what you want to do, as long as you get that degree, you will be okay. With that being said, it is easier for your future-self if you know what you want to be, and college can help set you up for that.

Q: What do you hope to be doing in five years?

BN: What I hope to be doing in five years is to be a security architect. I also hope to be on my way to be on the 30 under 30 by making an impact in whatever community I am in.

Be on the lookout next week for the second of four pieces in the Think IT Scholarship Spotlight Series.

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