Ever since she was young, Sheaffer had a dream of working in law enforcement. But after sustaining a knee injury as a teenager, she took a different path and obtained a degree in communications. It wasn’t until after 9/11 that Sheaffer realized there was still a way to fulfill her dream. It was then that she enrolled at Penn State to pursue a degree in security and risk analysis.
“I chose Penn State because I knew it was a highly respected school, and I would be able to pursue my degree totally online through World Campus,” Sheaffer said. “When I made the decision to go back to school, I was looking at Penn State, as well as a couple schools that are local for me, making it easy for me to attend classes while continuing to work my full-time job. However, my first choice was Penn State because I had heard about the quality of the IST programs.”
Working full time as a pro account sales associate at Home Depot ultimately led Sheaffer to an internship through her new academic program as a systems engineer for their risk and compliance group in the cybersecurity department.
“My main [internship] project was to gather metrics data to help the Third-Party Risk group, the Perimeter Infrastructure Risk Assessment (PIRA) group, and the Risk Assessment group and create dashboards allowing them to identify status of assessments, any roadblocks or bottlenecks in the assessment process, and risks to the organization as a whole,” Sheaffer said.
Along with being a ten-time Dean’s list recipient, she is also a member of Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, Alpha Sigma Lambda Honor Society, Pi Sigma Alpha Honor Society and The Honor Society.
“My favorite [IST] memory was the group meeting we had for SRA 211, 'Threat of Terrorism and Crime,' where we debated the location of the planned terrorist attack on the U.S.,” Sheaffer said. “This was the class that solidified my desire to work for a government agency doing counterterrorism.”
She added, “I can see actual discussions at the highest levels of the NSA or DHS going very much like ours. It was so real that it sticks in my mind and I will never forget it.”
According to Sheaffer, one of the most influential aspects of the College of IST was the group classwork.
“I had the opportunity to work with students from other countries and varied ethnic and racial backgrounds. The differences in ideas and approaches always made our projects better, because we were all committed to working together and learning from each other,” she said. “Penn State has an atmosphere of respect for others, and that ideal was made real in my experiences in group work.”
Sheaffer said she hopes to be offered a full-time job at the store support center at Home Depot upon completion of her internship, with the ultimate goal of working with the NSA or other governmental organizations in counterterrorism from within and outside the United States.
She feels positioned for career success thanks, in part, to the faculty at the College of IST.
“My experience and success at Penn State was due to the dedication and assistance of my professors. I could not have been nearly as successful as I was without their support, and for that, I wish to extend my deepest appreciation,” Sheaffer concluded.