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Project Ares Students: a conversation with Ken Perez

A Cybersecurity Success Story with a Sacramento Cares Student

I had a fantastic chat with Ken Perez – an alum of the SacCARES (Sacramento Cares) Cybersecurity Accelerator from our Project Ares partners at Inteligenca. We discussed his learning journey from working for a finance audit company to following his dream of studying Cybersecurity

Giuseppe Scalamogna from Project Ares talks with Ken Perez about pursuing his cybersecurity education.

Can you tell us about the certificate program you pursued with Inteligenca?

I was involved the SacCARES Cybersecurity accelerator program. It ran from November 2020 till February 2021. We were primarily studying our CompTIA Security+ certification.

Did you have a lot of cybersecurity experience before pursuing your Security + certificate?

I did not honestly. My cybersecurity experience was limited to the end user roles at a major corporation. My user experience with cybersecurity was the traditional corporate IT training that they give you in terms of don’t open suspicious emails, password protection and not to be downloading stuff that you shouldn’t be downloading.

However, I’ve since learned that training is one of the most important parts of cybersecurity. It’s just so vital. A lot of problems that happen are because of people opening phishing emails.

When did you start to get interested in computers?


I’ve using the computer since the 2nd grade. I was using an Apple 2e and playing Oregon Trail with big old 5.25-inch floppy disks. I’m a child of the modern technological age.

Today, I have this computer here and I’ve changed up the hard drive, swapped out the memory and upgraded the power supply. I’m comfortable with the hardware and the software side now.

What made you interested in pursuing a career in cybersecurity?

I was initially an electrical engineering undergrad and I switched to business. Particularly, to focus on finance and numbers because I was attracted to Excel, and I just loved it. As I proceeded in my career, I became a subject matter expert and I started writing my own VBA scripts. Little programs. I started to write my own macros to help me get my job done faster.

So, when I started constructing these programs at work, I found myself drawn back to an electronic engineering mindset. I was producing reviewable, repeatable, and accurate work.

What’s your dream job in the Cybersecurity world?

I’m kind of torn right now, honestly, because I like forensics. However, I’m starting to see cyber risk audit as something that I think I’m going to find myself doing because I have experience in a similar field and it feels familiar, so that’s why I’m leaning towards what a lot of people call GRC, but I prefer to call it, cybersecurity risk auditing.

What did you enjoy most when you were working with Project Ares?

I like the game room a lot. I know it’s not the primary purpose of Project Ares but when you’re still learning those small games can be extremely helpful. The Portflow game was a big help in learning about ports and protocols. I may not have passed Security + if hadn’t have played that game as much. When you’re a newbie the cyber learning games are great.

Project Ares Appreciation

We’re excited by our users’ passion, drive, and desire to be successful! Thank you Ken, and best of success in your cybersecurity career journey.

Check out other success stories (opens new window) where we continue to explore what inspires and motivates Project Ares (opens new window) students and why cybersecurity is important to them.

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