Cybersecurity expert named Featured Alumnus at Waubonsee Community College
Brian Olson of St. Charles, a military cybersecurity expert, has been named April's Featured Alumnus at Waubonsee Community College.
Giving back to support the community that nurtured your learning and development into adulthood is one of the most fulfilling things one can achieve. Olson is not only a success story for the community college education system, but he is also giving back by serving as a member of an advisory council for Waubonsee's new Cybersecurity Program as an alumnus. Olson was recognized by the college's board of trustees at their regularly scheduled meeting on April 21.
"Waubonsee left an indelible impact on my life," Olson said. "My experience at Waubonsee, not only as a student but as an employee, prepared me with the maturity, academic focus, and work ethic to succeed at the United States Military Academy and as an officer in the United States Army."
Olson was a Top Signal Corps Graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, where he earned a degree in computer science and was awarded the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Joint Department Award for Excellence, along with the Cyber Defense Iron Eagle Award. He was also inducted as a member of the Upsilon Pi Epsilon International Honor Society for the Computing and Information Disciplines.
Coming from humble beginnings, Olson did not let his past influence his future. He has accomplished a great deal as an Eagle Scout, a West Point graduate, an Iraq War veteran, and now Head of Global Threat Management for a multi-trillion-dollar, global financial services firm. He has been awarded the Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Achievement Medal, and the Iraq Campaign Medal (3 campaign stars).
His education in information technology began at Waubonsee in August 2000. Olson completed 32 semester hours while gaining experience working in the college's Information Technology Department. He recognizes the quality of the environment at a community college can be better than that of larger universities.
"The intimate class sizes at Waubonsee also mirrored those of USMA and demonstrated to me the value of intimate education vs. education en masse seen at larger universities and colleges," Olson said.
Olson served as Commander of the U.S. Army's first Dynamic Cyber Defense Company, providing support at our nation's highest levels. He served as the first Head of Cyber Threat Intelligence at Zurich Insurance Group, a Global Fortune 200 Company, where he established a global threat intelligence program. Before Zurich, he served as the first Deputy Executive Director of Plans and Policy for United States Cyber Command, a four-star military command responsible for the operations and defense of the Department of Defense networks.
Olson understands the value of community college education for the residents.
"Being convinced of the immense value of community colleges due to my Waubonsee experience, I worked with Anne Arundel Community College in Maryland to establish a world-class cyber training program for soldiers assigned to United States Cyber Command and the National Security Agency."
Olson now resides in St. Charles with his wife and two children. Adding to the impact on his life, Waubonsee is also where he met his wife, Staci (Bazan) Olson, during a Gustfason Scholars service day event at the Aurora YWCA.