Following a successful launch of the Adult Career Training Program’s new Cybersecurity pathway in fall 2022, WMCAT announced the scaling of the pathway in fall 2023, adding a cloud security engineering track to the original GRC (governance, risk, and compliance) track. The expansion provides more Kent County adults experiencing under- and unemployment the tuition-free opportunity to train for thriving-wage careers in the tech industry.

Twenty-four students are enrolled in the 2024 Cybersecurity pathway — 11 in the GRC track and 13 in the cloud security engineering track — and are well on their way to beginning their new career journeys.

Key to WMCAT’s Adult Career Training Program is the pairing of classroom learning with social capital building, personal and professional development, and industry connections. In addition to their technical training, students are regularly interacting with local professionals from companies supporting the 2024 Cybersecurity pathway as community and employer partners: Acrisure, Consumers Energy, Corewell Health, and Meijer. These companies are partnering with WMCAT and our students to bridge the transition from training to thriving-wage careers.

Envisioning the Future through Representation

Stacia Mason (center) — 2023 WMCAT Cybersecurity graduate and current Acrisure employee — poses with GRC students after presenting to the group.

Training for a new career is a significant undertaking — being able to envision yourself working in the industry can be its own challenge.

Recent estimates show that of those working in cybersecurity, only 24% are women, 9% are Black, and 4% are Hispanic. Students in WMCAT’s 2024 Cybersecurity pathway are 38% women, 50% men, 8% nonbinary, and 4% genderqueer or genderfluid; and 42% Black, 21% multiracial, 17% Hispanic or Latinx, 13% white, and 8% Asian or Pacific Islander.

Connecting with local industry leaders with similar identities, non-tech professional backgrounds, and diverse entries into the industry is key to building the confidence and support needed to enter a new career field. WMCAT students have heard from community partners about their journeys to cybersecurity, experiences as women in tech, and — thanks to WMCAT alum and current Acrisure employee Stacia Mason — what’s it like to make the jump from WMCAT’s Cybersecurity pathway to a full-time career in the field.

Future professionals need to feel they can connect to and succeed in the industry; employers play a key role in this.

Meijer’s Kristen Williams (third from left), speaks to students in WMCAT’s Cybersecurity pathway on a women in tech panel alongside Consumers Energy’s Audra Cumberworth (right), US Foods’ Sara Schmidt (left), and Gordon Food Service’s Evelyn Bremer.

Going Beyond Classroom Learning

Corewell Health’s Aaron Bregg (right) speaks to students about trends in cybersecurity on a panel alongside Acrisure’s Anthony Coggins (left) and West Michigan Cloud Security Alliance’s Matt Nelson (center).

Three days a week, Cybersecurity students are gaining technical skills while learning in a virtual reality environment; one day a week, they gather on-site at WMCAT for opportunities to further connect with each other and learn from local cybersecurity professionals.

Industry leaders from our community partners have joined students at WMCAT to share their knowledge on relevant topics in their areas of expertise: cybersecurity in healthcare, ransomware, scams against consumers, the impact of cybersecurity on small and medium-sized businesses, social engineering and human factors, and trends in the industry.

Building Professional Networks

Kelly Slenk (right), Corewell Health Manager of Governance and Compliance, connects with Cybersecurity students Adrian Morgan-Jimmerson (left) and Angelica Pointer (center) at WMCAT’s Mix + Mingle networking event.

The saying goes, “it’s all about who you know …” At WMCAT, we know that social capital plays a vital role in the journey to economic security.

Not only do students have opportunities to connect and build relationships with every community partner who comes on-site to present or share their stories, WMCAT also hosts Mix + Mingle — a networking event that brings together students, community partners, and industry professionals in one space, laying the foundation for networks to form and grow.

Preparing to Transition to Career

Over the coming months, professionals from our community partner companies will support students as they get ready to enter the career field through resume review, practice interviews, and career and hiring process advice.

WMCAT is committed to connecting people to new educational and career pathways, diversifying the tech talent pipeline, and supporting inclusive growth in the region to ensure all families can thrive in the digital economy. We look forward to celebrating Cybersecurity students at their graduation in October and are grateful to our community partners for their roles in supporting the class of 2024!

Thank you to our 2024 Cybersecurity Community Partners

If your company is interested in supporting WMCAT’s Cybersecurity pathway as a community partner, please contact Director of Development Emily Evers at