Southeast Graduate Cybersecurity Student Shares Academic Experiences with Board of Regents  


From left are Southeast First Lady Pam Vargas, Harman Malhi and Southeast President Carlos Vargas. Malhi was named Southeast Woman of the Year in 2015.

Southeast Missouri State University cybersecurity graduate student Harman Malhi of Cape Girardeau, Missouri, told the Southeast Board of Regents today that Southeast has made it possible for her to pursue her academic and career goals on multiple levels.

Malhi, a native of New Delhi, India, is a first-year graduate student currently pursuing a Master of Science in cybersecurity. She is also a 2016 and 2018 Southeast alumna with Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and a Master of Business Administration, both with majors in accounting.

Choosing a university that was dedicated to providing a comprehensive curriculum and professional learning experiences was important to Malhi. Knowing Southeast’s Harrison College of Business and Computing is recognized by AACSB International, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business and that its Bachelor of Science in cybersecurity is accredited by the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology (ABET), was a driving factor in her decision to continue pursuing her education at Southeast. The National Security Agency (NSA) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) also have designated Southeast as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education, an accolade that also drew Malhi to the program.

Harman Malhi was one of several select Southeast students who participated in the Center for Strategic and International Studies seminar in Washington, D.C.

“AACSB is a highly renowned accreditation awarded to reputed business schools all around the world. Being a global citizen myself, this accreditation was valuable in the decision to select Southeast to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree with a major in accounting,” she said. “Furthermore, I got accepted into the accelerated MBA program during my senior year and as a result, decided to continue my graduate education at Southeast.”

Her time at Southeast as an undergraduate and graduate student has provided her unique experiences to develop as a leader and professional. She was named Woman of the Year at Southeast’s 2015 Homecoming celebration, an honor that recognizes Southeast’s top students for campus service and involvement. In addition, as an undergraduate, Malhi was a member of the Southeast Marketing Club, participating in the Collegiate DECA state conference and competitions. She was a Top 10 Finalist in the Banking and Financial Services competition in the 2015 Collegiate DECA International Career Development Competition, and was a member of the first place team in the inaugural Show-ME MBA Case Competition in 2017.

While earning her undergraduate degree, she worked as an accounting services intern with Southeast’s Controller’s Office, and while pursuing her MBA, she served as a Quantitative Methods Graduate Assistant in the Harrison College.

Upon her graduation from Southeast’s MBA program, Malhi worked as a risk assurance associate for PricewaterhouseCoopers Ltd. in St. Louis, Missouri. During her year there, she assisted with internal and external information technology audits for several multi-industry companies.

International Students, including Harman Malhi, front right, celebrated the diversity of Southeast’s campus during a 2017 event.

“Because of this experience, I realized the pivotal role the cybersecurity domain holds in every aspect of digital life as we know it,” she said.

With that knowledge, she decided to pursue a master’s degree in cybersecurity and again chose Southeast for its highly regarded master’s degree in cybersecurity program that focuses on developing a skilled cybersecurity workforce with specialization in the area of critical infrastructure as defined by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Southeast’s cybersecurity graduates are increasingly sought after by tech-savvy employers who rely on cyber-infrastructure for their operations. Cybersecurity graduates are needed for crucial roles in national and international industries and private and public-sector companies, which increasingly have become targets of stolen information.

Malhi hopes her master’s degree in cybersecurity will position her well for success in the cyber world. As a second time graduate student, she harnessed the knowledge she’d gained previously as an intern and Graduate Assistant to help new students to the campus community as a Graduate Assistant this time in the Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity.

“As a result of these experience, I wanted to encourage other Southeast students to take advantage of the amazing resources and opportunities available and make the most of their time at Southeast,” she said.

In her current Graduate Assistant position, she helps other students while valuing the importance of cultural dexterity and the critical role it plays in the existence and advancement of society as a whole, Malhi said.

“Being a Graduate Assistant in the Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity has been a highly rewarding experience for me as it enables me to continuously grow and develop my business acumen and strategically incorporate diversity initiatives to attract, develop and advance the most talented Southeast students regardless of their race, sexual orientation, religion, age, gender, disability status or any other dimension of diversity,” she said.

She says the best part of her time at Southeast as an undergraduate and graduate student has been the opportunity to meet faculty, staff, and peer mentors who have had a significant influence on her personal and professional success.

“I would like to acknowledge Dr. Willie Redmond (director of International Business Programs and professor of economics), Dr. Alisha Ortiz (associate professor of accounting), Dr. Gillian Nicholls (director of Graduate Programs in Business in the Harrison College), Dr. Dana Schwieger (professor of management information systems), Dr. James Caldwell (associate professor of management), Ms. Nancy LeGrand (instructor of marketing) and Dr. John Cherry (retired professor of marketing). They have guided me through every step of my academic journey, and, because of their guidance, I was able to participate in several case competitions and gain experiential knowledge necessary to demonstrate my technical capabilities and global acumen,” she said.

Malhi, who expects to graduate in May 2021, hopes to work as a security analyst for a well-reputed firm where she can expand her professional acumen and network. She hopes to one day establish a consulting firm primarily focused on providing growth and expansion opportunities to small-mid-scale businesses and attract talented human capital to stay local.

“I was 17 when I first came to Southeast and have been here for most of my formative adulthood,” she said “At Southeast, I’ve grown both personally and professionally, and the most important life lesson that I have learned is the significance of perseverance and resiliency in the presence of both adversity and triumph.”