RIT/NTID alumnus shares his enthusiasm for information technology and computer networking
RIT/NTID alumnus David Cardenas SVP ’07, ’11, ’15 (AAS in information and computing and BS in applied networking and systems administration) developed a passion for information technology and network security to help organizations and customers in protecting and securing their information and networks from cyberattacks.
In 2006, as a high school student with an aspiration of attending college to pursue a career in technology, Cardenas attended Explore Your Future (EYF), a six-day summer program that allowed him to explore his interests in a variety of career areas and experience college life. The following year, he decided to apply to RIT/NTID and enrolled in the applied computer technology program.
While studying at RIT/NTID, Cardenas gained a real-world and valuable work experience in the field of information technology through internships with the Department of Homeland Security and ICE Electronic Corporation. He graduated from RIT/NTID with an associate degree in 2011 and a bachelor’s degree 2015, becoming the first person in the family to earn two degrees.
Eventually, Cardenas returned to his hometown in Chicago to work for the United States Military Entrance Processing Command under the Department of Defense as an information technology specialist. His role is to assist the department in using technical expertise to resolve issues in the areas of computer networks. He recently became a member of the Sentinel Society that provides funding to support RIT/NTID students.
Can you share information about your current role as an information technology (IT) specialist at the United States Military Entrance Processing Command?
As an army civilian working with the Department of Defense for eight years, I am responsible for planning, directing, and coordinating the design, installation, operations, maintenance, and connectivity of the Local Area Network (LAN) to ensure the stable operation of IT systems. Additionally, I am responsible for establishing a security system to prevent unauthorized access to the information. It is vital that we filter information before allowing anyone’s entrance into our agency’s network.
How did you become interested in IT?
I love networking technology because it’s always changing every day. I am always curious about how to communicate with other computers, how to share information and resources on the same network. These days, hackers are able to gain unauthorized access to information or data, such as personally identifiable information (PPI), so I always wanted to make sure we use security tools such as a firewall to block hackers from accessing the information on the network. I am also passionate about helping customers keep their information and data safe. That’s how I was interested in IT.
What are the most interesting and challenging parts of working in the IT field?
The most interesting part of working in the IT field is that it is evolving and new every day. When I saw something new and unfamiliar with technology, I took advantage of the opportunity to learn new things I had never seen or done before. For example, I never saw AWS (Amazon Web Services) before because it was new to me. With AWS, we no longer needed physical equipment; instead, we use a computer to place information and data in the cloud computing. The challenging part is that I had to learn how to use AWS to establish a security system through the Cloud. The good news is that I took the AWS certification exam as part of my job requirement, and I passed!
Why did you choose RIT/NTID for college?
As a high school student, I was always fascinated with information technology. I spoke to my counselor about my interest, and they encouraged me to check RIT, which is best known for computing and technology programs. They suggested that I should apply for EYF (Explore Your Future), where I could get exposed to the college experience and give me an idea of what programs RIT/NTID offered. I went to EYF for a one-week session, and I loved it. During the course of the program, I explored a variety of programs, such as computer science and engineering, but IT was one of the areas I was interested in. Additionally, teachers were able to communicate through sign language in the classroom. It was a perfect fit for me. I am truly thankful to my counselor for encouraging me to go RIT for college and I am glad that I made the right decision.
What was your favorite part of your RIT experience?
My favorite part of my RIT experience was meeting new people with different cultures and diverse backgrounds, which truly amazed me. Additionally, I had the opportunity to connect with many people through various activities, including sports and the Deaf Basketball Association.
What prompted you to become a member of the RIT Sentinel Society? Why is giving back to the RIT/NTID community important to you?
Looking back, when I was a college student, college was not cheap. Some tuition and other expenses were expensive. Fortunately, I received a few scholarships and financial support from Vocational Rehabilitation that covered some of these expenses, but the rest of them were left to me to pay. That meant I had to apply for a student loan. I understand how students feel about how expensive college is, and I have been there before. Now that I graduated from college and got a job, I want to give back to RIT/NTID by providing financial support to students who need education so they can graduate with a degree and be successful in whichever field they chose.
What accomplishments are you most proud of?
I am the only person in my family who graduated from college and received a Bachelor of Science degree. I received several IT industry certifications, including CompTIA A+, CCNP Enterprise, CCNP Enterprise Security, and CCNA Wireless.