Cheryl Swanier, Paul Sihvonen-Binder, Cybersecurity Club & more ...
Cheryl Swanier, Paul Sihvonen-Binder, Cybersecurity Club & more ...
You Belong At CICS: Diversity & Inclusive Community Newsletter
Erika Dawson Head

We Are One

Welcome back! The spring semester has begun and I am thrilled everyone is back. On behalf of the CICS Office of Diversity and Inclusive Community Development, I would like to wish everyone a successful, productive, and engaging semester!
Due to the late start of the semester, the B[U]ILT (Black, Indigenous, and Latin(x) in Tech) student organization and CICS were unable to hold our third annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Celebration event. Although we were not able to celebrate his legacy together this year, it is my hope that irrespective of the day or month, we recognize the important work and achievements of Dr. King. We also need to recognize our many other civil rights leaders, scientists, writers, artists, and musicians, as well as the contributions of millions of hard-working Black men and women. African American history is America’s history.
African Americans built the foundation of the United States—our White House and Capitol Building were built by enslaved people. It is also important to note that slavery was not restricted to the American South, but was also prevalent in Western Massachusetts and other parts of the Northeast. In fact, the labor of enslaved people was used to financially support institutions of higher education, such as Yale and Harvard.
This is just a small piece of the story; we can all honor African American/Black history by making a commitment to learn more about the contributions of African Americans and engaging in conversations with others about what we have learned. Regardless of your race, consider engaging in a conversation with someone from a different race, nationality, ethnicity, or gender. Be courageous: tell them about who you are, share your life experiences, ask them to do the same—and listen. You will learn a lot and help facilitate the work that is necessary to heal the collective trauma we have all been experiencing. The musical group Frankie Beverly and Maze say it the best when they sing “We Are One”:
We are one
From the very start
We are one
Deep down in your heart
We are one
And that's the way it is
We are one
Erika Lynn Dawson Head
Director of Diversity and Inclusive Community Development
College of Information and Computer Sciences, UMass Amherst

Speakers Announced:
Voices of Data Science

You are invited to the inaugural Voices of Data Science conference February 19–20, designed to amplify the voices of data scientists and celebrate diversity in the field.
The student organizers aspire to build a strong and inclusive network of data scientists with a shared vision to use data science for the common good. Learn more about the organizers in our previous issue of this newsletter.
Confirmed speakers:
Dr. Susan Dumais, Microsoft Research; Prof. Laura Balzer, UMass Amherst; Amy Prager, ABD; Prof. Amy McGovern, University of Oklahoma; Dr. Rumman Chowdhury, Parity; and Prof. Hima Lakkaraju, Harvard Unviersity.
Group discussions will be led by:
Ivana Williams, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative; Prof. Maryclare Griffin, UMass Amherst; Priya Donti, Carnegie Mellon University; Katie House, MassMutual; Kasthuri Jayarajah, Singapore Management University; Simone Fobi, Columbia University; Su-Lin Blodgett, Microsoft Research; Laure Thompson, UMass Amherst; and Jigyasa Grover, Twitter.
Register now

Faculty Spotlight:
Cheryl Swanier

This semester, CICS is honored to welcome Senior Teaching Faculty Cheryl Swanier. Swanier has served in education for nearly two decades, teaching in institutions of higher education and K–12 schools. She is especially passionate about increasing the female presence in computing. “I became a college professor to increase the pipeline of girls and women in computing, and so I'm all about broadening participation,” Swanier notes. “I'm excited about being at UMass and the opportunity to work with various initiatives to diversify the pipeline of underrepresented minorities in computing.”
In addition to her faculty role, she is the founder of Swanier Consulting, as well as the Small Ijose Swanier Foundation (SIS), a nonprofit that works on outreach initiatives to increase the representation of girls and women in computing. One of the projects that the SIS Foundation focuses on is the Kewl Girlz Kode summer learning program. As Swanier prepares to move to Amherst, she hopes to continue working on this project, as well as work with girls and women in her new community.
Currently, Swanier is in the initial process of developing a book called HERstory: Untold Stories of Black Women PhDs in Computing, which she hopes will “provide insight to the path to a PhD in computer science, in addition to motivating those desiring to diversify computing.” The book will serve as a reference for Black women in both academia and industry.

Staff Spotlight: 
Paul Sihvonen-Binder

Paul Sihvonen-Binder, software support specialist, has been at CICS for nearly 23 years. Over the years, he has enjoyed watching the growing diversity in the college and the tech industry.
“Over the 20-plus years I've been here, I have watched the diversity which [the Office of Diversity and Inclusivity] promotes expand exponentially in our college. And for me, it's been really interesting to watch that and to see the changes that has brought—how we look at [and] solve problems, how we interact with each other, and how we've grown from a department to a college. I have really benefited from all the encouragement of diversity in this college ... [I've] become exposed to such a wide range of people from all sorts of [backgrounds]. It's encouraged me to look at myself and how I interact and deal with people, and I've really enjoyed the challenges that has presented me with, and I think it's helped me grow as a person.”
When he’s not at UMass, Sihvonen-Binder enjoys shooting on film, having had a small nature photography business for about ten years. During the pandemic, he has enjoyed spending time with his wife and dogs, taking two-mile walks, and cooking.

Community Profile:
UMass Cybersecurity Club

The UMass Cybersecurity Club works to help students learn about cybersecurity through events, workshops, and talks. Recently they have begun hosting competitions with challenges involving CTFs (Capture the Flag events), cryptography, and cyber defense. Co-presidents Sebastien Christensen and Steven Rossi are hoping to attract new members, especially those who are just starting out in cybersecurity. Christensen advises newcomers interested in the club, “Don't be intimidated by that steep learning curve. Don't be afraid to just show up to an event and know nothing … at the end of the day, if it interests you and the desire is there, there are so many people who will be there to help you."
One of their newer members, Gilbert Hoermann ‘23, is the perfect example of how far one can get with the club. “When I joined the Cybersecurity Club, I basically knew nothing about the cybersecurity field as a whole. With the help of the club, I was able to set up a proper learning path and keep myself motivated towards achieving my first cybersecurity certification. The club was very helpful in answering questions I had along the way, and continues to be a constant motivation to improve my skills.”
Paul Sihvonen-Binder

Data Science for the Common Good

Data Science for the Common Good (DS4CG) is a summer program that trains aspiring data scientists to work on real-world problems that benefit the common good. Teams of CICS master's students collaborate with nonprofit organizations and government agencies working in fields including public health, education, health and wellness, and environmental conservation.
Graduate students interested in participating in the Summer 2021 program can join the DS4CG information session on Friday, February 5, at 5:00 PM ET. Check your email for the Zoom link. Contact with questions.
HackHer413 2021

Women in Cybersecurity 2021 Conference 

The Women in Cybersecurity (WiCyS) 2021 conference is a large in-person event scheduled for September 8–10 that will bring students and industry professionals together. WiCyS "helps organizations recruit, retain and advance women in cybersecurity—all while creating a community of engagement, encouragement, and support at a technical conference."

The student deadline for applications is March 1. To apply, students must be a member of WiCyS ($20 annual membership fee), and accepted students are asked to pay a $40 registration processing fee. If you are interested in attending WiCyS 2021 (or have already applied), please fill out this form to help the UMass Cybersecurity Club determine the need for student reimbursement of fees.
Apply now

Women and Gender Minorities in Space Symposium

AeroSmith, the Smith College’s Aerospace Club, is hosting a Women and Gender Minorities in Space Symposium on Saturday, February 27. This symposium is intended
to connect women and gender minorities
interested in aerospace and aeronautics with career opportunities and each other.
Register now
Photo: Joan Trumpauer Mulholland

She Stood for Freedom: The Untold Story of a Civil Rights Hero with Joan Trumpauer Mulholland

By the time she was 23 years old, Joan Trumpauer Mulholland had participated in over 50 sit-ins and demonstrations, including the Freedom Rides, Jackson Woolworth's Sit-in, March on Washington, Meredith March, and Selma to Montgomery March. Her path has crossed with some of the biggest names in the Civil Rights Movement: Martin Luther King, Medgar Evers, Fannie Lou Hamer, John Lewis, Diane Nash, and Julian Bond, to name a few.
Join this legendary figure for a very special event sponsored by the Ruth Boyes Women's Center at Central Connecticut State University, and learn about her multifacted approach to teaching individuals about racism and shedding light on parts of American history that are often misunderstood.
Register now

Faculty Event: Your Role in Building a Student Success Story

Faculty, learn how to work collaboratively with the Office of Disability Services to provide a network of support for CICS students, decrease your own stress, help students feel a sense of belonging, and increase graduation rates.
Tuesday, February 9

Black German Film Festival — Black Spaces / Black Voices

This festival pairs streamed film screenings and virtual discussions with filmmakers, actors, scholars, and activists. It offers a bold and refreshing look at the diversity of the Black diaspora and contemporary Germany.
February 11, March 11, and April 8


Over the course of eight hours, come learn and develop new technical skills, network with sponsor company representatives and innovate with passion. This hackathon is entirely student-organized and aims to increase diversity and inclusion in the technology industry.
Saturday, February 13

Voices of Data Science

The Voices of Data Science conference aims to amplify voices from underrepresented populations in computing, and to help build a strong and inclusive network with a shared vision to use data science for the common good. This year's conference will focus on presenting talks from accomplished women (cis and trans) and non-binary data scientists.
Friday, February 19 – Saturday, February 20

The Privileged Poor: How Elite Colleges Are Failing Disadvantaged Students by Anthony Jack

What does it mean to be a poor student on a rich campus? In this talk, Anthony Jack, author and assistant professor of education at Harvard University, sheds new light on how inequality is reproduced by contrasting the experiences of the Privileged Poor—lower-income students who graduate from boarding, day, and preparatory high schools—and the Doubly Disadvantaged—lower-income undergraduates who graduate from public, typically distressed high schools.
Thursday, March 25

What Should We Include Next?

Know someone with a great story? Or someone you just want to put a spotlight on for their great work? Here at CICS, we love being able to highlight those around us who make every day a bit better. This is an opportunity to get more involved in our newsletter by nominating a student organization or faculty/staff member to be interviewed.
Nominate someone!
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