Skip to main content

Combination of Computer Science Degree, Certificate in Cybersecurity Broadens Career Options for Graduate

Ben Miller
Ben Miller

Benjamin Miller developed a passion for computer science and technology as a teen growing up in Cabot, Arkansas. That interest ultimately led him to pursue a bachelor’s degree in computer science and a Certificate of Proficiency in Cybersecurity at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

“My interest in computer science started back in high school when I realized how much I enjoyed working with computers and technology,” Miller explained. “I took a few engineering classes, but it was a digital electronics course in my senior year that really sparked my passion.”

The course gave him a better understanding of digital systems and made him curious to learn more about computer science.

“As I explored the field more, I saw that computer science combined creativity, logic, and innovation in a unique way.” Miller said. “I was excited by the idea of using technology to solve real-world problems and make a positive impact on people’s lives. Plus, with technology advancing so quickly and computer science becoming more important in so many industries, I knew that pursuing this field would open a lot of opportunities for me.”

Miller also cultivated an interest in coding and building computers, which he explored during his second semester at UA Little Rock.

“It was during this time that I discovered my enthusiasm for cybersecurity,” he said. “After taking an introductory course and a digital forensics class as electives, I found myself captivated by the content, tools, and subject matter. This newfound passion inspired me to earn a Certificate of Proficiency in Cybersecurity.”

Miller sought out practical, hands-on experience that has contributed to his growth and development in his areas of study.

“As a freshman, I secured employment in the Cyber Arena and Emerging Analytics Center during my second semester,” he said. “This opportunity has been invaluable, enabling me to expand my knowledge and skills in both cybersecurity and computer science.”

The experience has allowed him to explore these fields in depth, build programs, and apply his knowledge to real-world scenarios.

“The Cyber Arena has been an invaluable resource for me, offering experiences that I wouldn’t have had access to in a traditional classroom setting,” Miller said.

Over the last three semesters, he collaborated with friends on various class projects.

“These experiences have not only enhanced my learning but have also allowed me to form meaningful friendships that I wouldn’t have had otherwise,” he said. “Working together on these projects has taught me the value of teamwork, communication, and problem-solving in a collaborative environment.”

The Department of Computer Science has designed certificate programs to both allow students pursuing a bachelor’s degree to earn stackable and complementary credentials and to serve working adults seeking to change careers or upskill in their current jobs, said Dr. Albert Baker, department chair.

“It is very encouraging to have our current students taking advantage of certificate opportunities in the way that Ben has,” Baker said. “The combination of a B.S. in computer science and a certificate in cybersecurity will assuredly open up exciting and lucrative career opportunities for him.”

Throughout his academic journey, Miller said his parents, Billy and Sarah Miller, have been incredibly supportive and instrumental in his success.

“My father, who works in the cybersecurity industry, has been particularly helpful in exploring the fields of computer science and cybersecurity with me,” he said. “Dr. Sandra Leiterman and Dr. Philip Huff,  leaders in the  UA Little Rock Trojan Cyber Arena, have offered encouragement and assistance in navigating challenges with classes.”

Miller added that Chris Newton, a pastor at New Life Church in Cabot, has been a pillar of support, always ready to lend an ear and provide encouragement. Brandon Fertig, the father of a friend who is in the computer science project management field, has been “a constant source of encouragement and has provided invaluable guidance in my career search. I am incredibly grateful for the support and guidance these individuals have provided throughout my academic journey,” he said.

After graduation, Miller hopes to work in cybersecurity within the Little Rock area.

“My goal is to pursue a career path in digital forensics or incident response,” he said. “To enhance my qualifications, I am also working towards an AWS certification, which I aim to complete shortly after graduation.”

AWS (Amazon Web Services) Certification helps learners build credibility and confidence by validating their cloud expertise with an industry-recognized credential.

“At the end of the day, my interest in computer science came from a mix of my early experiences with digital electronics, my hands-on coding practice, and my desire to use technology to make a difference,” Miller said. “This passion has motivated me to pursue a career in computer science and keep growing my knowledge and skills in this constantly evolving field.”