Giving Back, One Cyber Scholarship at a Time
Cyber firm CEO creates award to honor his parents, aid students.
When students studying cybersecurity return to Capitol Technology University in Maryland this fall, cash scholarships donated by a former adjunct professor will aid at least two of them.
Nischit Vaidya, president and CEO of Argotis, is driven by a love of education and a desire to give back to his community. The new scholarship program—created in his parents' names—accomplishes that quest and provides a legacy honoring his parents, who endured years of hard work and worry to see their son succeed, he says. “For me, the biggest thing is my mom and dad.”
Education wasn’t always Vaidya’s strong suit, he says. He struggled through high school and early college years, barely graduating from both. “I really struggled, but finally found my way and now I want to give back,” says Vaidya, who leads the Maryland-based technology company he cofounded with a longtime friend.
And so this fall, for the first time, two students will receive the Niranjan and Mira Vaidya Scholarship, created to help third-year students studying cybersecurity or information assurance (IA) at Capitol Technology University. Recipients must have a financial need and at least a 3.5 GPA. Two $1,000 awards will be given, one to a male student and one to a female, Vaidya says.
During several years of university-level teaching, Vaidya says he has seen a slight increase in the number of women in information technology and cyber fields, but not enough—hence the reason one award is reserved for a woman. “I want females to know they can come and play in the boys playground as well—it's OK,” he delicately jested. He has worked in the cyber field for 18 years. "You never meet too many women in the industry," he says. "They might have all thought it's a male thing-male-dominated. I'm sad that that's the perception, because intellect comes from inside. It's not based on your gender or the color of your skin."
Over the last several years of teaching cybersecurity and IA at a handful of universities, he has encountered some inspiring young talent, he continues. “Unfortunately, some don't have the opportunity or some of them have come to me and said it's hard for them to continue in college or a certain program.” He can empathize, remembering his own struggles. Those memories, in part, spurred him to start the scholarship.
His family emigrated from India to the United States, undereducated and not speaking the language, in search of the iconic American dream and better way of life. Vaidya was 6 years old. “I'm a big believer in legacy. I believe it's good to leave something memorable behind so other people can aspire to it.”
He earned his master’s degree from Capitol Technology University in 2012 and though not presently a member of the adjunct faculty, wants to continue a partnership. As his company grows, he plans to offer graduates job opportunities. “I’m not just doing this to give money to college; we also want to help [students] get a career,” he says. “When Argotis is successful, I'm going to need people.”