SIA Women in Security Forum Scholarship Program

Women in Security Forum

About the WISF Scholarship

The purpose of the SIA Women in Security Forum Scholarship program is to further educational opportunities for the widest spectrum of people and empower all to join the SIA Women in Security Forum and thrive in the security industry. Through this scholarship – open to all SIA members and student members – each recipient will be awarded funds to use toward approved degree programs, continuing education, repayment of student loans and professional development programs (e.g. training courses, certifications and conferences). In 2023, $75,000 in scholarships were awarded.

Applications for the 2024 SIA WISF Scholarship will be opening soon!
Stay tuned for details.

SCHOLARSHIP BASICS

  • Multiple scholarships worth $7,500 each can be used toward registration for industry education or certification programs, conferences or webinars; tuition for accredited education programs related to the security industry; and/or repayment of student loan debt
  • Open to SIA student members and members of SIA's Women in Security Forum who are employees of SIA member companies

Thanks to our 2024 Scholarship Donors!

Diamond Sponsor

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Ruby Sponsors

Boon-Edam
Eagle Eye Networks

ELIGIBLE USES

Scholarship funds may be leveraged for any of the following purposes:

  • Registration costs for any SIA education or certification programs or conferences.
  • Repayment of student loan debt.
  • Tuition payments for courses that will lead to completion of accredited programs offered by trade and vocational schools or associate’s, bachelor’s or master’s degree programs related to the security industry.
  • Registration costs for other industry education and certification programs.
  • Registration fees for industry webinar programs.

Eligibility

Each applicant must meet all relevant requirements set forth below to be considered eligible as a scholarship recipient.

  1. Each applicant must be either 1) a Security Industry Association (SIA) student member or 2) a member of the SIA Women in Security Forum and an employee of a SIA member company.
  2. Each student applicant must be enrolled in an accredited program offered by a trade or vocational school or an associate’s, bachelor’s or master’s degree program related to the security industry.
  3. Each industry applicant must be a full-time employee of a SIA member company that is current on member dues, have worked for the employer for a minimum of six months at the time of the deadline and be in good standing within the employer organization. The designated SIA primary contact for a member company will verify eligible employees.
  4. Current officers, directors and key employees of SIA and the immediate families of SIA officers, directors and key employees are not eligible to receive scholarships under the program.
  5. Individuals who have received any scholarship awards from SIA within the previous three years are not eligible to receive scholarship funds under the program.
  6. A goal of at least 50% of scholarship funds will be awarded to employees of SIA member companies.

APPLICATION PROCESS

Each applicant must complete the application and include supporting documentation.

  1. Fill out the application form with accurate and up-to-date information.
  2. Provide essay responses answering the following questions:
    • Why have you chosen to apply for the SIA Women in Security Forum Scholarship, and how will the awarded funds be used? (250 words minimum)
    • Describe how would you promote diversity and inclusion within the security industry and create a more equitable environment for women and other underrepresented groups. (500 words minimum)
    • What are your long-term career aspirations, and how do you plan to use your education to achieve these goals? (250 words minimum)
    • Who has been a significant role model or source of inspiration in your professional life, and why? (100 words minimum)
  3. Provide the names, titles, email addresses and phone numbers for two professional references.

Each applicant must submit a complete, signed application, together with all supporting documentation, including essays and professional references, by the deadline. The completion of the application form does not create an obligation on the part of SIA to award a scholarship to the applicant.

scholarship selection committee

The Scholarship Selection Committee (the “Committee”) will consist of volunteers from the SIA Women in Security Forum AmplifiHER Subcommittee.

Committee members are volunteers and perform their duties without compensation, financial or otherwise. If the Committee is reviewing the application of an applicant who is an employee of the Committee member’s company, or if the Committee member is otherwise conflicted with respect to the applicant, the Committee member shall recuse himself or herself from all deliberation and voting regarding the applicant’s application.

​SELECTION PROCESS

  1. Only those applicants who meet the eligibility criteria and submit their completed applications and supporting documentation on or before the deadline (“qualified applications”) will be considered in the selection process.
  2. It is the applicant’s responsibility to submit a complete and signed application, along with all the supporting documentation, which must be received on or before the deadline. The Committee accepts no responsibility for incomplete applications, applications not in proper form, lost applications or any other submissions not in compliance with these requirements or the instructions provided with the application.
  3. The Committee scrutinizes applications for the use of generative artificial intelligence tools, such as ChatGPT, in essay responses, and priority is given to responses that demonstrate original thought.
  4. The Committee shall review each application and award points based on the applicant grading criteria set forth below. As noted above, a committee member with a conflict with respect to any applicant shall not participate in the review or grading of that applicant’s application and supporting materials.
  5. The scholarship award will be based on the Committee’s scores of the overall quality of the application and the scholarship essays. Applicants receiving the highest scores shall be awarded scholarships. In the case of a tie, the SIA CEO will make the final decision.
  6. Scholarship selection shall be made without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, national origin, disability, veteran status or any other category protected by federal, state or local law. Conversely, an applicant will not be selected solely based on one or more of the categories identified above.
  7. The decision of the Committee is final and not subject to review.
  8. All deliberations and decisions of the Committee shall be recorded in Committee meeting minutes, which shall be drafted contemporaneously with the review and decisions of the Committee.

Application Grading Criteria

The following applicant grading criteria will be used by members of the Committee in reviewing applications and determining which applicants will be granted scholarships:

SIA MembershipUp to 10 points
ReferencesUp to 10 points
EssaysUp to 80 points
Up to 100 points

AWARD REDEMPTION

Each recipient must enroll in an approved course or program within 12 months of being awarded the scholarship, and should coordinate with SIA for reimbursement of paid course or program fees. SIA will reimburse the scholarship recipient up to the value of the award upon submission to SIA of sufficient course enrollment documentation and a completed Form W-9. Payment will be made to the award recipient by ACH or wire transfer and in US funds.

If the course or program fee amount is greater than the awarded value, the recipient will be responsible for the balance. If the course or program fee amount is less than the value of the scholarship award, the recipient will have a credit, up to the total award amount, that may be available for future reimbursement of related professional development expense within the 12-month period following the award.

The scholarship recipient may be reimbursed for student loans, course tuition and entry or program attendance fees, but may not be reimbursed for study materials, travel costs or any other expenses related to approved courses or programs. In the event that a scholarship recipient is seeking to use the funds for repayment of a student loan, SIA will pay directly to the scholarship recipient up to the value of the scholarship following submission of sufficient loan documentation to SIA.

donor pROGRAM

  • Funding of the scholarship program is achieved through contributions by individual members of SIA and member corporate support.
  • Unless specifically designated by a donor, contributions will be made toward the general scholarship fund.
  • Donation levels:
    • Diamond level: $10,000-19,999
    • Emerald level: $5,000-9,999
    • Ruby level: $1,000-4,999
    • Sapphire level: ≤$999
  • Donations made in excess of $20,000 annually may have the privilege of “naming” a scholarship, subject to the approval of the Scholarship Committee and the SIA Executive Committee.

Tax Deductibility Status

Your contribution to SIA, a 501(c)(6) organization, is not a tax-deductible donation; however, each company making a donation should check to see if contributions can be deducted as part of the company's own business operations deductions.

Thanks to Our Scholarship Committee!

Each year, the SIA Women in Security Forum Scholarship honorees are selected with the help of SIA’s Women in Security Forum Scholarship Subcommittee:

  • Chair: Martha Entwistle, senior manager, strategic communications, Eagle Eye Networks
  • Beth Anderson, senior channel marketing manager, Allegion US
  • Rebecca Bayne, president, Bayne Consulting & Search, Inc.
  • Jim Black, senior director, security architect, Microsoft
  • Lynn de Séve, founder and president, GSA Schedules, Inc.
  • Tia Eskandari, director of service, Southwest region, Allied Universal
  • Stephanie Mayes, vice president of sales, SiteOwl
  • Elaine Palome, director of human resources, Americas, Axis Communications
  • Kim Rahfaldt, director of media relations, AMAG Technology
  • Ania Ross, director, product and technical marketing, Wesco
  • Gannon Switzer, vice president of sales management consulting, Vector Firm

Congratulations 2023 WISF Scholarship Winners!Congratulations to the 2023 SIA WISF Scholarship Awardees!

[View the official press release.]

Nike Coker, Senior Project Manager, City of Toronto, Canada

Nike Coker headshot"Throughout my 17+ years in the security industry, I have developed an insatiable appetite for knowledge and am constantly looking for ways to develop and enhance my skills. This scholarship will allow me to prioritize my professional development without having to work any extra hours sacrificing time with my family to afford them. In life, you will face many barriers. It's important to never get in your own way. Be persistent and resolute in your quest to open every closed door. Success requires that you risk twisting the handle of a few locked doors so that when an opportunity does present itself, you’ll be standing in that open doorway, ready to receive it."

Alex Czoschke, Learning and Development Manager, Arcules

"I am deeply grateful for the opportunity this scholarship provides. It not only relieves a significant financial burden by aiding in the repayment of my student loans, but also reinforces my commitment to diversity and inclusion within the security industry. With the funds now available for loan repayment, I can further invest in my career – allowing me to drive positive change and contribute meaningfully to this industry with a historical gender imbalance. I aim to inspire more women to use their expertise to make a difference in our field and help people everywhere feel safe. Thank you, WISF!"

Deepa Veni Dhanasekaran, Systems Designer, Convergint

"I am deeply honored to receive the prestigious Women in Security Forum Scholarship. I would like to express my profound gratitude to SIA for selecting me as one of the recipients. As a woman in early stages of my career, this scholarship not only eases the financial burden of my student loans but also serves as a tremendous source of motivation and encouragement. I am committed to upholding the values of excellence, leadership and diversity that this scholarship embodies."

Laura Garest, Director, Global and National Systems Integrators, Wesco

"Throughout my career, education has been a driving force behind my success. It has enhanced my self-image and has given me the knowledge, skills and self-confidence to become a more thoughtful leader and serve as a better example for the next generation of women in security. Being awarded this scholarship gives me more financial flexibility.  I intend to use the money to pay off past student loan debt and put the rest toward my current MBA program’s tuition."

Crystal Landeck, Warehouse Coordinator, Convergint

“'They said she couldn’t, so she did.' Being one of the recipients of the 2023 SIA Women in Security Forum Scholarship is a significant milestone in my journey. I plan to complete my bachelor's degree and pursue a project management career. Navigating this field as a woman comes with unique challenges, but this scholarship empowers me to break barriers and shatter gender stereotypes. I am committed to not only achieving my academic goals but also making a lasting impact in the security sector, proving that gender is never a hindrance to success. This scholarship is a beacon of hope and opportunity, and I am immensely grateful for this support."

Madeleine Mathias, Graduate Student, The Fletcher School at Tufts University

"The 2023 SIA Women in Security Forum Scholarship will help me cover my tuition costs and ultimately reduce the amount of debt necessary to earn my Master of Arts in law and diplomacy. After graduation, I plan to pursue a career in policy and international security where I can make impactful changes to promote diversity and inclusivity, which is not only an ethical imperative, but a strategic necessity for the security industry.”

Carmella Saia, Graduate Student, The George Washington University

"I am honored to be a WISF Scholarship recipient! With SIA’s generous support, I can pay my master’s degree tuition, graduating almost debt-free. This financial freedom will allow me to excel in my academic endeavors, empowering me to pursue my professional aspirations without burdensome loans weighing me down. Being a part of the WISF network will also contribute to my career goals as I can connect with and learn from the best in the security industry. I hope to utilize these skills, resources and experiences to uplift other women in the field and highlight the importance of diversity in security."

Alina Thai, Graduate Student, Georgetown University

"I am extremely honored to have been chosen as a 2023 SIA Women in Security Forum  Scholarship recipient. I will be able to continue my educational pursuits in security with the support of WISF, and I intend to use the scholarship toward my master's degree. The scholarship will also bring me one step closer to achieving my goal of one day contributing significantly to the disciplines of homeland security and cybersecurity through research."

Hilary Turner, Senior Content Writer, Eagle Eye Networks

"Moving forward, I plan to pay down student loan debt using this scholarship. This will free up my resources, allowing me to pursue a part-time Master of Arts in technical communication in the next two years. This additional education will enable me to communicate more skillfully and accurately about the security products my company creates and sells. I’m excited to be a scholarship recipient, and I look forward to the many benefits of being selected."

Rhette Wallach, Senior Principal Product Security Engineer, Stryker

"I have made it my mission to poke holes in medical embedded devices, cloud and application security at Stryker. While I have been busy sleuthing attacks on next-generation medical AI by day, by night I will be on a quest to conquer the elusive OSCE3 certification, from this scholarship. I am passionate about mentoring future female and gender-nonconforming hackers in Synack's Artemis Team. I hold that the world of security research could use a little less conformity and a lot more flair. #womenofthehunt"

“Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of who do the things no one can imagine.” – Alan Turing