Carnegie Mellon University

Image of women who received the INI EWF fellowship

November 07, 2017

CMU's Information Networking Institute, Executive Women's Forum Award 10th Fellowship

Fellowship aims to increase diversity in information security

By Jessica Corry

Christa Jones
  • Information Networking Institute
  • 412-268-5312

In the wake of major security breaches at Yahoo and Equifax, Nishchala Tangirala's commitment to protecting global citizens from cyber threats is growing. Through a full-tuition fellowship awarded jointly by Carnegie Mellon University's Information Networking Institute (INI) and the Executive Women's Forum on Information Security, Risk Management and Privacy (EWF), Tangirala is one step closer to realizing her dreams of becoming a chief information security officer.

Tangirala's education is made possible through a partnership between the INI and EWF, sponsored by Alta Associates, that offers fellowships to underrepresented minority and female graduate students. By supporting full-tuition costs, the EWF INI Fellowship eases the financial burden of a Carnegie Mellon master's degree and increases the diversity of the student body and the field of information security.

At the 15th annual EWF National Conference on Oct. 24-26, Tangirala was recognized as the fellowship's 10th recipient and celebrated alongside the previous fellows, many of whom are now working at companies such as Microsoft, Apple, Google, Facebook, Palo Alto Networks, Red Hat and Ernst & Young.

Image of Tsmaitis and BrocagliaDena Haritos Tsamitis, director of the INI and member of the EWF board of advisers, was also honored with an award recognizing her leadership and commitment to increasing diversity in the field of information security through the decade-long fellows initiative.

"With a projected shortage of qualified cybersecurity professionals looming on the horizon, tackling the field's diversity challenges has never been more important," Tsamitis said. "Over the past decade, INI and EWF have developed the next generation of women leaders, each of whom has an inherent desire to pay it forward by supporting opportunities for others in their community."

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, fellows gain access to the EWF community of mentors who have reached executive levels in their careers. This intense level of support has helped to lift these scholars toward success.

"As the EWF celebrates its 10th anniversary of partnering with INI, we are thrilled to be awarding a scholarship to Nishchala Tangirala," said Joyce Brocaglia, founder of EWF and CEO of Alta Associates. "The EWF's mission is to engage, develop and advance women leaders and as such we are looking forward to having Nishchala join our community."

During her undergraduate studies at the University of Nebraska, Tangirala interned with Union Pacific and ConAgra and learned firsthand the importance of protecting businesses from security risks. Yet it is the recent consumer security breaches that inspired her passion to create a secure and happy cyberspace for each and every global citizen.

"The INI is the perfect platform for me to realize my dreams of becoming a security expert," said Tangirala, noting the program's technical curriculum, specialization in information security and experienced faculty. "But for this generosity bestowed on me, it would not have been possible for me to pursue my master's degree at my dream university, Carnegie Mellon, and at the best department, the INI!"