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Learn from the Best: Drew Rozema believes in the power of technology and the power of communication done well

Sept. 2, 2022, GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Drew Rozema, head of the Computer Information Systems Department, and nationally known cybersecurity expert, did not start his career with teaching and information security in mind. 

“I always knew I wanted to do something with computers, and sort of bounced around in different roles in IT and engineering until I found cybersecurity,” Rozema said. “The switch to cybersecurity was somewhat serendipitous. I was tasked with helping out with a number of security initiatives and was sent for training while working for a company called Tribune. When I realized I would need a degree to advance my career, I knew security was what would keep me interested enough to complete it.”

Rozema worked at Fox 17 WXMI-TV as a computer systems administrator for two years, and then manager of information systems for seven years, before becoming director of technology at Tribune Co. in 2009.

He connected with teaching during his time at Tribune, when he took an adjunct faculty position in the Grand Rapids Community College CIS department in 2013. Just over a year later he stepped into the position of tenured assistant professor. Two years later he accepted the role of department head for the CIS department at GRCC – working with faculty and industry leaders to keep CIS degrees and certificates at the forefront of emerging software, technology and information security.

Rozema was drawn into teaching by the subject matter

 “I like the opportunity to be immersed in the subject matter I love, and try and share my passion with the students in my classes,” Rozema said. “Our program brings world-class facilities and cutting-edge curriculum to Grand Rapids. We have faculty trained and vetted by some of the biggest names in information technology and rigorous academic programs for students who want to be help desk professionals, IT technicians, network administrators, cybersecurity professionals or research computer scientists. Any of those careers can start (and have started) at GRCC's CIS department.”

Through Rozema’s leadership and collaboration with faculty and administration members, CIS was recognized by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security in 2018 as one of two Michigan community colleges designated a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense.

That same year, Rozema launched the “Defeasible Reasoning” podcast. Podcasting, he said, is an egalitarian medium that allows for real conversations to happen and for intimate stories to get told in a way that no other media can. Archived podcast episodes cover all things cybersecurity from 2018 to 2020 with co-host Noah DeSmit, a former GRCC Media Technologies Department staff member.

“Like most hackers I remain a techno-utopian at heart,” Rozema said. “I believe in the power of technology and the power of communication done well. I hope that we all benefit when everyone has an opportunity to have a voice. Admittedly, we’re all still figuring out how to make that work, and there are occasional misfires, but I’m confident we can all get there.”

In 2020 Rozema also joined the University of Michigan faculty as an adjunct lead instructor for the Nexus School of Engineering Cybersecurity Professional Boot-camp.

His advice to students? Know the real value of your skills and talent; and how important it is to have credentials that prove them.

Rozema is currently working towards a doctorate through the Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security at Purdue - Discovery Park. He holds a Master of Science in Computer Information Systems, with a concentration in security, from Boston University, and a Bachelor of Science from Capella University with a specialization in Information Security and Assurance.

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