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Faculty Spotlight: April Harris, Associate Professor of Cybersecurity and Criminal Justice

April Harris, Associate Professor Cybersecurity and Criminal Justice

Hiring Year: 2014

Education:
B.A., Central Connecticut State University 
Psychology

M.S., Utica College
Cybersecurity and Digital Forensics

M.S., University of New Haven
Criminal Justice

 

What inspired you to become an educator?

I've wanted to be a teacher in some capacity for as long as I can remember. I used to play “school” in our playhouse tent and correct worksheets for my pretend students when I was a kid. As I grew up, my ambitions changed, but I always knew I wanted to be a college professor after I had had a career. I always loved school and learning, so I wanted to share that love with students.

 
What do you think makes the student experience at Herkimer unique?

It's clichéd to say, but we actually do care about our students. We typically have smaller class sizes, so faculty get to know students and vice-versa. My students know that I will do everything in my power to help them be successful, even after they graduate, and that really sticks with them.

 

What makes your program stand out from similar programs at other colleges? What can students expect to experience in the classroom?

The Cybersecurity and Digital Forensics program is different than other community college programs because we really focus on the criminal justice aspect of cybersecurity. Our focus is on computer forensics and solving incidents/crimes after they occur. The cyber courses are 95 percent hands-on and give students access to real-world tools that they'll use in the field. We also do mock testimony in order to prepare students to be excellent professionals.

 

What professional or industry experience and/or specialized training do you bring to the subjects you teach?

Prior to becoming a college professor, I spent eight years working in federal background investigations, which gives me a unique perspective on information security. I have many stories and examples that I share with my students as a result of the work I did and how these investigations fit into the broader world of information security.

 

What other roles do you play at Herkimer College (i.e. club advisor, coach, etc.)? Why is it important to you to be involved in that capacity?

In addition to being a full-time faculty member, I serve as the Academic Senate President and I'm the co-advisor of the Criminal Justice Club. When I was in high school, I took a class that focused on community service and service to others, and at the time, I thought it would be a “blow-off” class that got me out of school early twice a week. I learned a lot from that class and I have carried the notion of service through my life. I try to lead by example, and if students see me getting involved in the college community, maybe they will as well.


What do students need to know in order to succeed in college?

Try! Seriously, try and keep trying. If you are having a hard time in a class, talk to your professor, seek tutoring, form a study group with your classmates. In the Cybersecurity and Digital Forensics program, the students know that learning comes from failure and in our classroom environment, it is safe to fail as long as they are trying. Tools break, software sometimes won’t work, and that is perfectly alright, because the journey and understanding are more important than the end result.  

What are your hobbies or interests outside of work? Any professional or recreational accomplishments you’d like to highlight?

Besides being the wife of a talented and caring man, I have two rescue pitbulls that take a lot of my time. I am an amateur crafter and I enjoy making things with my hands. I also love to read, watch brain-rotting television like the Real Housewives, and am a Marvel nerd (when it's offered, take my Superheroes and Society class – it’s a great time). Finally, family is the most important thing to me, so when I am able, I spend as much time with my family and close friends as possible.

Tags: Faculty