Academic Excellence Award

Academic Excellence Winner — Jacob David Bisek, Computer Networking Systems

Jacob David Bisek entered the military not long after graduating from Chaska High School. Military service was something he’d long had an interest in, and because he wanted to challenge himself he chose to enlist with the Marines.

After completing four years of active duty as a machine gunner, including deployments to Afghanistan and Jordan, he did almost four years of reserve duty in aviation supply here in Minnesota.
Military service was difficult at times, but Bisek appreciated the personal growth that came with it and that it allowed him to provide for his family.

Time for a change

Partway through his reserve duty, Bisek decided it was time to explore other career options. He has always had a knack for technology and also wanted to have more control of his schedule. As he explored his options, Dunwoody seemed like a good fit.

“I wanted a more hands-on college experience and to go to a college that had a larger number of veterans attending,” he said. “I wanted to be around more peers that have had experiences similar to mine.”

At Dunwoody, the number of Veterans has consistently been 10 – 14 percent of the student body.

Bisek chose to enroll in the Computer Networking Systems program because he knew IT was a good career track and was confident that it was something he’d be good at.

It turned out to be a good choice. Not only was he good at it — he excelled enough to be named the 2021 Academic Excellence Award winner for the Computer Technology department.

Network interruption

Bisek soon discovered that his instincts had been correct: both the hands-on approach to learning and the small class sizes with instructors who have industry experience were exactly what he was looking for, and he was engaged with the curriculum much more actively than he had been during his high school experience.

“All of the instructors are very knowledgeable and have a lot of great experience that they bring with them to the classroom,” he said.

Bisek’s enthusiasm for the specifics of networking grew as he learned more about the industry.

“I enjoyed creating scripts that are run within virtual environments,” he said. “I am a huge fan of automation and creating ways to simplify and automate tedious and repetitive tasks. I’ve also really enjoyed working with VMware and creating virtual environments. They are a huge part of corporate environments and learning how to navigate, troubleshoot, and create virtual environments has been a fun challenge that I have really enjoyed.”

That level of enthusiasm and detail did not go unnoticed.

“It was a pleasure having Jacob in class. He is a curious student who enjoys learning and dives into challenges,” said Julie McFadden, Associate Professor of Computer Networking. “These skills are key to having a successful career in IT, and I see great things from him in the future.”

Unfortunately the move to virtual learning due to the pandemic meant that Bisek had to change up his approach to studying. But he made the adjustments he needed to succeed.

He credits his family for both the motivation — he wants to be a role model for his children — and the inspiration and support he needed to finish up his degree and graduate in May.

“My wife, Katie, has always been there for me and she helps me stay focused on the bigger picture no matter how hard things might seem at the time,” he said.

A future in cybersecurity

Bisek is currently in a program with Cigna called TECDP (Technology Early Career Development Program) and hopes to go into infrastructure automation.

He is also going to start Dunwoody’s bachelor’s completion program in Cybersecurity this coming fall.

“I hope to find as many ways as possible to help automate a company’s environments,” he said. “I have been doing a great deal of this type of work for [Cigna]. It is something that I have found great joy in and a knack for.”

Bisek said he’s looking forward to being back on campus for classes when his Cybersecurity program starts and “build a deeper understanding of infrastructure security and how to prevent sensitive data from being exposed. It is a job that will never go away and will offer me more opportunities than a general computer science degree.”