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3 min read

Meet Our Winter 2023 Scholarship Recipients: Kelly Ngo-Bakam and Odniel Gonzales

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We’re less than a week away from kicking off our Cyber Defense Analyst Bootcamp with our Winter 2023 Cohort. We’re ecstatic to introduce our scholarship recipients for this cohort: Kelly Ngo-Bakam and Odniel Gonzales!

Kelly received our Open Doors Scholarship while Odniel was awarded our VetSec Scholarship.

We asked Kelly and Odniel to talk to us about what they were doing before the bootcamp, why they chose us, and what they’re most excited about with less than a week to go before we roll up our sleeves and get things started.

Meet Kelly Ngo-Bakam

Kelly Ngo-Bakam1. What were you up to in terms of your career/education before the bootcamp—and what made you decide it was time for a change of pace?

Prior to the bootcamp, I was a business analyst. After embarking on self-studying for some time, it became apparent that hands-on training from experts in the industry would be instrumental to consolidate my learning process. In order to get the next Level, a bootcamp would Effectuate my growth in my cybersecurity journey :)

2. Why did you choose to attend Level Effect’s bootcamp over the others out there?

While scouring through every online resource to learn as much as I could about cybersecurity, I found a video on my YouTube timeline promoting Level Effect. This review affirmed my decision to pursue Level Effect as my bootcamp of choice, and I am pleased to say that I made the right decision.

3. What are you most excited about as you begin the bootcamp?

I am most excited about getting the hands-on practical training from the bootcamp. I have gleaned that Level Effect is not just a bootcamp, but its training and impact to one’s development is akin to the practical experience one would get from being in a trade school for cybersecurity. Further, alumni have expressed that it had adequately equipped them for real world challenges in cybersecurity—and that is all I can ask for. 

Meet Odniel Gonzales

Odniel_21. What were you up to in terms of your career/education before the bootcamp—and what made you decide it was time for a change of pace?

Since 2016, I’ve been interested in the technology and cybersecurity career field. First, I started by learning how to program in different languages and did a few personal projects. Eventually, I wanted to learn how computers communicate with each other and how the technology behind the internet works. This quest also opened my eyes to the security side of technology and how a simple link in an email could eventually lead to data breaches that affect millions of people across the globe.

For the past year, I’ve been working hard to increase my knowledge and earn some certifications. First, I studied and earned Security+ in order to gain a broad understanding of the security field. Then, I wanted to build a solid technical foundation. Knowing the importance that networking has on today’s world and for cybersecurity in general, it was the logical next step in my journey. I also wanted to build my hands-on skills, so I decided to study for the CCNA, which I passed last November.

Working in the technology and cybersecurity field is a dream that’s been six years in the making. As I transition out of the military after 20 years of active duty service, I’m taking this as my opportunity to make my dream career a reality.

2. Why did you choose to attend Level Effect’s bootcamp over the others out there?

During my studies this past year, I stumbled upon the VetSec community, which helps veterans transition into the cybersecurity field. This community has been instrumental in my path, and their mentorship and guidance has helped me make sense of the vast cybersecurity field, which can be confusing and overwhelming for an outsider. 

It was through VetSec that I first learned about the Level Effect bootcamp and their mission. The more I learned about Level Effect, through reading their webpage and blog posts, listening to multiple podcast episodes, watching John Hammond’s video, the more I realized that attending and committing to the bootcamp was my logical next step. 

I was looking for the following in a program:

  • Mentorship: it is foundational for a successful career. Learning from someone that has actually done the jobs for years is invaluable
  • Hands-on skills: it is essential for a technology and cybersecurity job, and honestly, it is a fun way to learn as well
  • Learning the Windows OS inside and out: it is crucial to understand what malware does to your system and the ingress pathways that threat actors can take
  • Live classes: nothing beats being able to ask questions on the spot from your instructors

From all the programs that I looked into, only Level Effect ticked all the boxes. Additionally, the fact that the classes are still being taught by the founding members, that they still work in the field outside of the bootcamp, that they give back to the community through their charity seats, and that some of them are part of VetSec, sealed the deal for me.

3. What are you most excited about as you begin the bootcamp?

I’m very excited to dive deep into cybersecurity and learn more about Windows, CTI, malware, and develop hands-on skills with a SIEM and to hunt threats. Although it will be fast paced, like drinking from a firehose, I’m looking forward to being mentored by the instructors and my classmates, and develop a solid foundation to springboard my new career.


We’re so excited to have you as part of our first cohort in 2023, Kelly and Odniel! Thanks for chatting with us.

For each of our cohorts in our Cyber Defense Analyst Bootcamp, we offer a full scholarship for one VetSec member as well as a $2,500 discount for other VetSec members. We also offer a full scholarship for one student in each cohort through our Open Doors Scholarship as well as partial scholarships depending on capacity and needs.

Open Doors Scholarship

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