Carnegie Mellon University

EWF Fellow

October 16, 2019

Supporting women in cybersecurity through INI and EWF partnership

By Jessica Shirley

Jessica Shirley
  • Director of Strategic Communications

INI student Irina Dumitrescu receives full-tuition fellowship to study information security at Carnegie Mellon University

Irina Dumitrescu understands the power of women in computer science. As a high schooler, she volunteered with Romania’s Young Initiative Association and as a Google engineer, she joined the United Nations Foundation’s “Girl Up” initiative teaching high school girls in Georgia and Estonia how to make Android apps.

“Computer science is applicable in every aspect of professional and day-to-day life, and girls need to contribute equally to shaping these innovations,” said Dumitrescu, an aspiring security professional earning her master's degree at the Information Networking Institute (INI). “We can't leave out half the planet from using their ideas and talents to improve society.” 

At Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), the INI is closing that gender gap, one student at a time, in partnership with the Executive Women's Forum on Information Security, Risk Management and Privacy (EWF).

In fall 2019, Dumitrescu became the twelfth recipient of the full-tuition EWF INI Fellowship. It was established in 2007 and is awarded annually to support a graduate student from a historically underrepresented population to earn an INI information security master’s degree.

“Our fellows are the next generation of women leaders and innovators in security,” said Dr. Dena Haritos Tsamitis, Barbara Lazarus Professor in Information Networking and director of the INI. “The fellowship goes beyond easing the financial burden of a Carnegie Mellon master’s degree and diversifying the information security field. Our scholars are empowered and supported by an incredible network of mentors in the EWF community, inspiring a deep commitment to paying it forward in their own careers.”

ewfconference-2018.jpgAt the 17th Annual EWF National Conference on October 15-17, Dumitrescu will be recognized as the fellowship’s twelfth recipient and celebrated alongside the 11 previous recipients, many of whom are now working at major companies such as FireEye, Microsoft, Apple, Google, Facebook, Palo Alto Networks, Red Hat and Ernst & Young. ​

“We are proud to partner with Carnegie Mellon’s INI in not only providing scholarships for remarkably talented students, but also including them in the EWF community where they are nurtured, supported, mentored and sponsored,” said Joyce Brocaglia, founder of EWF and CEO of Alta Associates. “Our EWF members are generous with their knowledge and their time, so not only are students receiving an outstanding education, they are gaining access to the leading women in our industry who guide them through their careers.” 

Irina's Journey to Carnegie Mellon

In her hometown of Bucharest, Romania, Dumitrescu was actively involved in volunteer work, particulary with the Young Initiative Association. She helped to launch its Bridges to Knowledge project for institutionalized children and served as project manager, web developer and Spanish teacher. After a successful fundraiser, she was promoted to Young Initiative Ambassador last year.

Dumitrescu attended Imperial College in London, where she earned an integrated master’s degree in computing with a specialization in software engineering. She then worked for Google as a Site Reliability Engineer before transitioning to the Android Enterprise Security team.

“After working in industry for several years, I wanted to push myself to learn more,” she said. “I was drawn to security because I enjoy thinking about the details of systems, the math behind cryptography, and understanding how to ensure the privacy of my personal data, and that of other users.” 

By earning a second master’s degree, Dumitrescu hopes to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the challenges related to security, privacy and cryptography that exist today.

“I am honored and truly grateful to receive this fellowship,” said Dumitrescu. “I hope that by being part of EWF, I will find role models and networking opportunities to help me build my career path and better understand the cybersecurity landscape.”

Supporting Women in Cyber

Fellow INI security student Abhilasha Ramaswamy is the fourth recipient of the Joyce Brocaglia EWF Endowed Fellowship. Inspired by the successful EWF INI Fellowship, the EWF community established this small annual award in recognition of Brocaglia’s commitment to advancing women in technology.

abhilasha-500x500.jpg“My dream career is to work as an information security professional in risk management and privacy,” said Ramaswamy, who decided to attend graduate school after four years in network consulting at Cisco Systems. “The INI will help me achieve this dream through coursework and strong connections with industry.”

Founded in 2002, the EWF is the largest member organization serving emerging leaders and influential female executives in the security, risk management and privacy field. In addition to financial assistance, the fellows gain access to the EWF community of mentors who have reached executive levels in their careers. 

About the Information Networking Institute

The Information Networking Institute (INI) at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) educates and develops engineers through technical, interdisciplinary master’s degree programs in information networking, security, and mobility that incorporate business and policy perspectives. For more information, visit

About the Executive Women’s Forum on Information Security, Risk Management & Privacy:

Founded in 2002, the Executive Women’s Forum on Information Security, Risk Management & Privacy (EWF) is the largest member organization serving women leaders as well as the most prominent and influential women in Information Security, Cybersecurity, IT Risk Management, Governance Risk & Compliance and Privacy. The EWF’s mission is to advance women in our field through leadership development, education and the creation of trusted relationships. The EWF achieves this goal by facilitating programs and events throughout the year including a National Conference, regional meetings, leadership development programs and interaction with global thought leaders through an online community. For more information, visit

About the EWF INI Fellowship

The Information Networking Institute (INI) partners with the Executive Women's Forum (EWF), sponsored by Alta Associates, to offer a full scholarship to an incoming INI student. Alta Associates is a premier executive recruitment firm specializing in Information Security, IT Audit, Risk Management and Privacy. This scholarship was first offered in the Fall 2007 to support a student from a historically underrepresented population. Awardees, known as EWF INI Fellows, receive a full scholarship and have the opportunity to be mentored by an EWF participant who is at a senior level in the information security field. For more information, click here.

About the Joyce Brocaglia EWF Endowed Fellowship

Established in 2012 in honor of the CEO of Alta Associates and founder of the Executive Women's Forum (EWF), the Joyce Brocaglia EWF Endowed Fellowship supports INI graduate students and develops future generations of leaders in technology. In honoring Joyce and the work of the EWF with your own gift, your generosity towards this endowed fund will enhance the amounts available to support a greater number of students. For more information, click here.