By: Amber C. Williamson

Dear Former Teacher,

As I reflect on International Women’s Month, Mother’s Day, and Teacher Appreciation Week, I must reflect on the women teachers who have played an enormous role in my academic and professional career. I never said that I wanted to become an educator. If anything, I still believe that teaching is one of the most underserving roles that must cater to the future of America. I remember giving gifts to all my teachers from preschool to high school and wondered if those teachers were alive today. I wonder if they appreciated the small token that I have provided to them for their years of service. Every now and then, I would bump into one of my former teachers, and their wisdom still resonates today. It is because of them that they have shaped my well-being. Throughout my education, women played a role in my trajectory to where I am today. From Preschool to High School, I have had more women teachers than male. It wasn’t until I entered college and the workforce that computing was male-dominated. I know how it feels to have male teachers who did not provide the necessary coaching and encouragement throughout my education career. I know how it feels to have your life crushed from dreams to becoming reality. Women are more vital than one may believe. It was because of women teachers that I am a better educator today. From Preschool to Secondary Education, I have had at least seven women teachers teach me the art of computing. From learning reading and math concepts and typing to video games, they were the ones that have shaped my computing mindset. While doing a research paper on the evolution of calculators with a focus on Texas Instruments, I knew my analytical mind would take me to new dimensions that I would not know. While math was not my most vital subject according to standardized testing, I see the crucial element to crushing complex computation.    

Throughout my educational evolution, I have had concerns about my career trajectory. As a former Biology and Chemistry major, my passion for STEAM-related fields changed to a higher perspective to switching to computers, which was my born love. Computers came to me while I was running from doing anything related to computers. From not doing the magnet program in elementary school, I always wondered how life would be afterward. However, I feel that I still turned out fine and chose the path that was made for me. I have evolved from switching to a new career in computing, and my concern has been where women are in the computing field. Women like Grace Hopper, Anita Borg, Katherine Johnson, Annie Easley, and Dr. Alicia Nicki Washington showed a different perspective on how I should navigate the field. A late female friend advised that I decide to mentor students in computer science through Microsoft TEALS, and the rest is history.

After seven years of participating with Microsoft TEALS and an upcoming fifth-year teaching, I have transformed a high school cybersecurity program into a future dual enrollment opportunity for students to learn complicated concepts that humans take for granted daily. I will take the small victories of students wanting to pursue their careers in cybersecurity, obtaining industry certification, participating in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, NCWIT recipients, and top score participants in CyberStart America. I have participated in several committees within CSTA, CSEveryone, and the NICE K12 Cybersecurity Education Conference for my professional growth. Obtaining two Master’s degrees and a Graduate Certificate in Computer Science Education from the University of Maryland Baltimore County and a Cybersecurity and a Graduate Certificate in Cybersecurity for Educators from Marymount University gave me new perspectives to teach evolving concepts to meet industry needs.

As I dedicate this reflection piece to this message, I wonder what my former teachers would think of my accomplishments. It doesn’t matter that I was an A/B student with minimal C’s in Primary and Secondary Education. I learned how to overcome the challenges in Higher Education and rebounded to become one of the top students in my graduate programs. What does it mean to be a teacher? A teacher empathizes with students to ensure they have all the resources available. A teacher nurtures their students as their children. While I am not a perfect teacher, I still meet the needs of others, which makes me the favorite teacher of the year. While titles do not make the teacher, it is out of the abundance of the heart that makes students love their teachers.  Because of the students, I am still here, giving back my time and efforts in a field I am passionate about and continuing to become an agent of change.

I was the most successful student when majoring in computer science and cybersecurity. My accomplishments and contributions speak for themselves. Thank you to the women teachers from my childhood and professional career who continue to infuse the future with understanding, compassion, and grace. A special dedication to my computer teachers in Elementary School, Junior High, High, and College: Thank you for allowing me to fall in love with a computer.


Your Former Student, “The Cybersecurity/Computer Science Educator”

About the Author

Amber Williamson Headshot

Amber C. Williamson is a passionate cybersecurity doctoral candidate and educator in Atlanta, Georgia. She advocates for exposure to minorities in cybersecurity and computer science education through secondary education and historically black colleges and universities. Amber is a valuable resource to the community that provides insight into cybersecurity resiliency.

Regardless of the numerous degrees in cybersecurity and computer science education, Amber understands the intricacies of cybersecurity education and will continue to disrupt the workforce.