Meet Scholarship Recipient Jadon Watson (You’ll Feel More Secure)

Springfield’s Jadon Watson was only seven years old when he repaired the family computer (“My father couldn’t even do it,” he recalled).

Perhaps the rest of us can feel a bit of comfort knowing that Watson plans a career defending the United States against malicious or criminal attacks to its computer systems. Critical technologies — underpinning electrical grids, for example — are increasingly vulnerable to attack, he asserted.

Photo: Jadon Watson (at right) with Mark Thompson, PhD, president of Wentworth Institute of Technology [Courtesy of Jadon Watson]

“I want to be part of the first line of defense when it comes to cyberattacks against our nation,” he said.

Watson, a sophomore at the Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston, credits scholarship support from the Community Foundation in helping him attend his “dream school” to major in cybersecurity.

“I have to learn data science, computer science, hardware security, and cloud computing to be really good at it,” Watson said. “The cybersecurity industry is like the Swiss Army knife of the information technology world. That’s why I love it — I’ll never get bored because it’s always evolving and changing.”

Scholarships from the James Z. Naurison Scholarship Fund, Lena Tucker Scholarship Fund, and Urban League of Springfield Scholarship Fund have paved the way for Watson’s college studies thus far.

“I’m so appreciative of it,” he said. “My family and I wouldn’t have been able to pay for college if it weren’t for the Community Foundation.”

To be sure, the resourceful Watson has forged his own path to higher education.

He attended the Roger L. Putnam Vocational Technology Academy in Springfield to study information technology. A teacher told him of a summer camp in Virginia that focused on technology and cybersecurity and arranged for Watson to attend. Watson returned for three summers, working at the camp for two.

“Just being able to connect with people from Google, FireEye, and other pillars in the industry — being able to talk with them — made me realize I loved cybersecurity and I wanted to choose a school for that.”

Pointing to frequent news reports highlighting hacking attempts of businesses and government, Watson predicts that the next national security conflict will not be on a battlefield, but on vulnerable national security systems.

“I want to help strengthen them,” he said.

Learn more about college scholarships from the Community Foundation of Western Connecticut. Scholarship applications for the 2022-23 academic year close on March 31, 2022