If Andreas Vassilakos (ITM 4th year) had to describe his ideal career path, it would likely feature two components: computer technology and the opportunity to help others.
"I was always into computers. I have been intrigued since the very first time I was exposed to technology," Vassilakos says, adding: "The natural progression for me would be information technology and cybersecurity because I find the whole aspect of trying to help people and using your skills in technology fascinating."
The fourth-year Illinois Institute of Technology student in the School of Applied Technology is in the process of making that dream a reality. Vassilakos has been selected for a Foreign Affairs Information Technology Fellowship through the United States Department of State.
Vassilakos is the second student in SAT's information technology and management program to participate in this fellowship in the last three years. Akvile Kiskis was part of the 2017 cohort.
Vassilakos—a co-terminal degree student working toward a bachelor's degree in information technology and management and a master's in cyber forensics and security—is one of five fellows in the 2019 cohort. He will utilize his background and skills to help solve technology solutions for U.S. diplomacy during a fellowship that includes mentoring, professional development opportunities, and two internships—one in the U.S. in summer 2020 and the other abroad in summer 2021—over the course of the two-year program.
"I was really fortunate to have amazing mentors that have supported me since I joined the ITM department. Maurice Dawson took me under his wing and provided me with the opportunity to conduct research and hone my cybersecurity skills. Adjunct Instructor Billy Pappademetriou trusted me to be his lab assistant and conduct undergraduate research through his ITM 497 course. Industry Professor James Papademas was the one who introduced me to the ITM program and gave me the opportunity to pursue projects that developed my passion. Industry Professor and ITM Associate Chair Ray Trygstad, my advisor, was always guiding me in the right direction," Vassilakos says.
"I would have never received this life-changing fellowship without my ITM family. Illinois Institute of Technology is lucky to have people like them who are dedicated to the success of their students and the school. I am thankful for the innovative environment of Illinois Tech and all the opportunities it has provided me to continuously grow as a person and technologist."
Following the completion of the fellowship and his degrees at Illinois Tech, Vassilakos will spend a minimum of five years working as an Information Management Specialist with the State Department's Foreign Service, where he'll help maintain security and reliable information technology tools and resources so that Foreign Service officers, federal agencies, and non-government partners can promote diplomacy overseas.
"It has been a dream to use my technological skill set, or the things I have a passion about, to help change the world and also serve my country," Vassilakos says. "I'm really excited and proud about this opportunity."