Carnegie Mellon University
November 13, 2015

Melanie Rich-Wittrig receives full scholarship to study information security

By Jessica Corry

Inspired by the 1999 movie “The Matrix,” Melanie Rich-Wittrig (MS27) discovered both a future career and a hobby.

“Ever since 'The Matrix' was released, I wanted to be a hacker like Trinity,” said Rich-Wittrig. Competing in college hacking competitions introduced her to Carnegie Mellon University’s (CMU) Plaid Parliament of Pwning (PPP), sparking her interest in CMU’s information security programs.

She is now a first-year Master of Science in Information Security (MSIS) student, attending the Information Networking Institute (INI) on a full-tuition scholarship. The award is provided by the INI in partnership with Alta Associates’ Executive Women’s Forum (EWF).

“I want to get paid to find bugs and holes in security so that vulnerabilities can be addressed before a malicious attacker takes advantage of them,” Rich-Wittrig explained, noting the EWF INI Fellowship makes that career goal possible.

Outside of the classroom, Rich-Wittrig can be found gracefully tumbling and spinning on aerial silks, a hobby picked up in a rock climbing gym and shaped, in part, by her love of “The Matrix.”

Rich-Wittrig says she is grateful to EWF not just for the scholarship, but also for the opportunity to attend the national conference.

“Getting the chance to be in a room with more than 300 women in the security field was invaluable, and I hope to see it grow as the years go on,” she said.

About the EWF INI Fellowship

The INI has partnered with the Executive Women's Forum, sponsored by Alta Associates, to offer the EWF INI Fellowship to graduate students. The EWF INI Fellowship supports full tuition costs in order to ease financial worries for these students. In addition, they gain access to mentors who have reached executive levels in their careers. This intense level support has helped to lift these scholars toward success. Major companies, such as Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, Lexmark and Ernst & Young, have recruited previous recipients of the EWF INI Fellowship.