It was one of the toughest decisions of my life. I felt like a video game character when they get a game over screen and they have to choose continue, or new game. Instead of attending grad school and diving deeper into my semi interest in psychology, I had to contemplate if I was truly passionate about psychology.

My name is Norman and I NEED passion. Since the age of 10, I started running but was terrible at first and did not reach varsity until Junior year of high school. At first, I was a sprinter and got left behind in every race. Not just one or two, literally all of them. My closet is filled with participation and 5th place ribbons. In high school, I had a life changing growth spurt and sprouted to about 6 feet. I hit my stride sophomore year and got promoted to varsity my junior year. I clearly remember how good I felt the day my legend of a coach, Peter Brewer announced me varsity. It was like I just hit the lottery. Everyone was clapping and I felt so accepted for once in my life.

I say all this to say if one thing running has taught me about the real world, it is that life is easier with a good team. I am fortunate enough to have Alfonso Hooker and Damon Packwood as my coaches, as well as Rasa Ostad and Ptah Asabi as my teammates. I need to be challenged and to experience failure to passionately pursue something. Without a team to support me when I fail, I won’t get to the finish line as fast.

As an application security major at Merritt College, I will have to work my way up to varsity to be the penetration tester I eventually want to become. Similar to a middle distance runner needing the speed of a sprinter, and the stamina of a cross country runner, I will have to obtain the knowledge of a software engineer, as well as the knowledge of a security architect.  My favorite part of my tech journey has been the National Cyber League( NCL). The NCL is an online capture the flag type security competition for schools to compete against each other.  This spring season was a great improvement for Merritt College. We placed 4th in the silver bracket (behind 3rd by only 5 points), and 13th overall. Competing while learning, what more could a lifelong student athlete ask for?

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