Student Spotlight: CNCC Cybersecurity Student Transforms Career Trajectory 


Like a lot of students, Gwen Doizaki had to reconsider her next steps when the pandemic hit halfway through high school.

“The entire plan that I’d had up until graduation got lost in the air,” said Doizaki, who lives in Craig, Colorado with her family. “So, I took a little half gap year where I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do.”

As Doizaki mulled over ideas, her mother came across a Facebook advertisement that gave her new direction.

“I didn’t think I was going to get into computers, but when I saw that CNCC had this program, I thought, ‘Where am I going to get that kind of opportunity again without having to move out of town?’ I decided to go out on a limb, join up, and the next thing I know I’ve got a certification.”

Doizaki is among the first students to enroll in Colorado Northwestern Community College (CNCC)’s cybersecurity program, which launched in 2021 with support from the Colorado Attorney General’s Office. Beyond building a skilled cyber workforce, the program is key to meeting local workforce needs as Craig transitions from its traditional coal mining industry.

Although Doizaki grew up working with computers at school and home, she never considered it as a career path. She quickly excelled in classes and was surprised by how much she enjoyed them.

“The great thing about cybersecurity is there’s a little bit of everything. You have to know how to do IT work. You have to know how to investigate digital crimes—you have to learn how to do a penetration test,” she explained.

Doizaki’s instructor Bobby Williams noticed her passion and encouraged her to apply for the SWAP program at Lockheed Martin, a leading aerospace engineering company where Williams used to work. Doizaki got a spot, lining up an entry-level programming job that will begin shortly after she graduates from CNCC in December.

As a Lockheed Martin employee, Doizaki will earn a high salary, health benefits, and even a retirement plan. And the best part?

“Being able to learn from people who have been in the industry for a while,” she said. Compared to taking classes, “it’s different to see someone in action.” 

Lockheed also offers a tuition benefit, of which Doizaki expects to take full advantage to continue her training.

“If I get a bachelor’s degree, then I’m essentially giving myself higher growth potential,” she said. “You can move up to higher positions.”

While she looks to the future, Doizaki is quick to note how far she’s come since the pandemic upended her plans.

“My career trajectory literally transformed over a single year,” she said. “It’s been pretty awesome.”

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