Miss Southern Utah educates on cybersecurity, hopes to encourage girls, women to enter tech industry – St George News | #datingscams | #lovescams | #facebookscams


ST. GEORGE — Miss Southern Utah Brenley Veater seeks to increase cyber awareness and encourage more young women and girls to consider careers in science, technology, engineering and math as she heads to the Miss Utah competition this week.

Miss Southern Utah Brenley Veater, Snow Canyon State Park, Utah, date not specified | Photo by Sara Bowles, St. George News

Veater serves as the director of cybersecurity at Cingo Solutions, a St. George-based cybersecurity company and the founder of Be Cyber Smart, a nonprofit she founded to teach others to be good, online citizens and aware of cyber threats, she said.

Veater was crowned Miss Southern Utah on Sept. 25, 2021, previously represented Miss Garfield County and has been in the Miss America organization for about seven years. And the scholarships she’s received by participating in competitions have helped put her through school debt-free, she said.

Director of the Miss Southern Utah Scholarship Competition Jessica Orvin told St. George News that Veater is driven, professional and kind. She said she admires Veater for pursuing a career in cybersecurity and noted that she’s part of a small percentage of women who do so globally.

Finding a passion for STEM

Miss Southern Utah Brenley Veater conducting a Be Cyber Smart training with the Digital Literacy classes, St. George, Utah, date not specified | Photo courtesy of Brenley Veater, St. George News

Born and raised in Panguitch, Veater said she loved growing up in rural Utah where she lived on a livestock farm. She said she learned the importance of hard work and continuous education at a young age and was involved in extracurriculars in high school.

“The only sport that I did not do was basketball,” she said.

Veater was student body president until she graduated with a class of 36 students. She said growing up in a small town provided her with many opportunities and while it’s not as glamorous as hailing from Northern Utah, Veater said, she benefited from the tight-knit community and support while she competed.

“I bring a lot of supporters with me (to competitions),” she said. “I love Panguitch. I love where I grew up and I love, love Southern Utah.”

Living in a small town, she said she was encouraged to take home economics and art classes, while the boys were encouraged to take STEM classes, so she didn’t take many science courses outside the general curriculum or have an interest in related careers.

After high school, she followed her passion for fine arts and auditioned for a school in Los Angeles, California, to which she was accepted.

Miss Southern Utah Brenley Veater, date and location not specified | Photo courtesy of the Miss Southern Utah Scholarship Competition, St. George News

While she studied musical theater and fine arts, Veater said she began to gravitate toward the processes, logic and tangible, factual information associated with her studies and decided to take a step back and return to Southern Utah.

“I found a passion for STEM while I was out there … I love fine arts but it’s definitely become more of a hobby, and I really fell in love with science,” she said.

Veater moved to St. George, where she worked as a server at Black Bear Diner and later earned her associate’s degree at Utah Tech University, formerly named Dixie State.

Veater served a group of repeat clients whose orders she had memorized. She said she always carried a “professional vibe,” prompting the group to ask her to interview for a job as an administrative assistant at a cybersecurity company.

“And initially, it was like, ‘This is a Ponzi scheme. I don’t know if I want to do that,’” she said. “And so I came in and  interviewed and there’s five brothers and they’ve been my mentors for the last three – almost four – years now.”

Veater was curious about the work and “jumped right into it.” By self-educating and asking questions, working hard and showing ambition, she moved up the ladder to her current position as director.

Veater now manages about 300-400 workstations. She said she faces new challenges every day, which is part of why she loves her job, and that as a self-taught person in a rapidly developing tech industry, she is constantly learning and improving her skills.

Miss Southern Utah Brenley Veater conducting a Be Cyber Smart Training with the Digital Literacy classes, St. George, Utah, date not specified | Photo courtesy of Brenley Veater, St. George News

“Every day is something new,” she said. “It is never the same work. It is never redundant.”

One of the toughest aspects of her job involves attempting to employ individuals and encouraging them, especially women, to consider joining the tech industry. She said many have a major skills gap that acts as a barrier to the field.

“This is a great career and this is something that you can thrive in,” she said. “So I think trying to find unique ways to close that gap and get people interested in STEM would probably be one of the most difficult things for me, but it’s something I’m very passionate about.”

Veater said she encourages women to take STEM classes to see if the field is something they’d be interested in, and while she doesn’t believe it’s a conscious bias, society more often encouraged men to participate in STEM. She experienced impostor syndrome when she first started because, even now, she is the only woman working at her company.

“(I) had to realize what I can do,” she said. “I can be involved in the Miss America organization but I can also be director of cybersecurity and excel in a STEM career. And so, being an advocate and hopefully, an influential person saying ‘You can do this,’ I’m hoping that will involve more women and give them the courage to pursue what they’re good at if that’s what they want.”

Madison Brostrom, who also serves as director of the Miss Southern Utah Competition, said Veater’s intelligence and service are the two traits that stood out most to her. Veater has a desire to help others and has spent “countless hours” serving her community.

“Her career in cybersecurity is driven by her passion and love of helping others,” she said. “She is kind, talented, beautiful, intelligent and … she has found success in her life, especially at such a young age, because of her intelligence and servant leadership.”

Be Cyber Smart

While Veater loves to work in management, she said she’s notably passionate about cybersecurity and teaching others online safety, as cyber strikes can quickly change a person’s life. When she first started in cybersecurity, Veater said she realized how much the people in her life didn’t know.

Brenley Veater receiving the crown at the Miss Southern Utah Scholarship Competition, St. George, Utah, Sept. 25, 2021 | Photo courtesy of Brenley Veater, St. George News

She’s currently in the process of establishing Be Cyber Smart, with a focus on educating individuals of all ages, particularly preteens and teens, about online safety and how to be good, online citizens.

The 501(c)(3) for the nonprofit is in the final stages. She said partnering with Miss America created a simulation-like environment where she was able to run Be Cyber Smart in “beta mode” for about three years.

Other companies have to find investors and work through processes, procedures and policies, but those are already built for Be Cyber Smart, said Veater, adding that she’s already reached many people.

“I’ve done so much work on it, on behalf of the scholarship competition, that now it just is going to run,” she said.

As part of her initiative, Veater has visited multiple Southern Utah schools to teach local youth and their parents how to maintain their devices, the pitfalls of social media and how to use it properly. Veater also tells them their digital footprint matters and that it can be permanent, she said.

Brenley Veater at the Miss Southern Utah Scholarship Competition, St. George, Utah, Sept. 25, 2021 | Photo courtesy of Brenley Veater, St. George News

As her talent during the Miss Southern Utah competition, Veater created a presentation about identifying phishing scams. And she said some attendees later avoided cyber threats when they utilized the tips she provided.

“Be Cyber Smart – it’s my brainchild and something I’m very passionate about and I hope to just grow it,” Veater said. “And my goal as Miss Utah is to go to 170 middle school and elementary schools and educate them.”

Veater noted that if she doesn’t win Miss Utah, she will continue to implemen Be Cyber Smart as she has been since winning Miss Southern Utah.

“I’m very blessed to be in Southern Utah and have these opportunities that are going to continue to run after I no longer have the title of Miss Southern Utah,” she said.

Other service projects

Veater was volunteering with Techie for Life, a school for neurodiverse students, when she was asked to give a talk about dating, she said.

Miss Southern Utah Brenley Veater collecting shoes for Soles4Souls, date and location not specified | Photo courtesy of Brenley Veater, St. George News

“I am not qualified to talk about dating,” Veater said. “At all.”

While she spoke to school mentors about her work in cybersecurity, Veater said she learned that while many of the students excel in tech, many companies won’t give them opportunities for employment.

This discussion led to a partnership between Veater, Cingo Solutions and Techie for Life; the company hires students from the school and offers them internship opportunities and training.

Additionally, Veater has worked for three years with Soles4Souls, a nonprofit organization that accepts new or gently used shoes and provides them to those in need who can then sell the shoes for a profit. According to its website, shoe donations serve as a steady stream of quality products for those who’ve started a business with the organization’s help.

In her time partnering with Soles4Souls, Veater said she’s collected over 3,000 pairs of shoes and attributes her success to her community and individuals’ willingness to help.

Preparing for competition

Veater is returning to the Miss Utah Competition after winning a non-finalist interview award and the DoTerra S.T.E.M. Scholarship as Miss Garfield County, Orvin said. The competition will run from Thursday-Saturday in Salt Lake City.

Brenley Veater with the former titleholder Hillary Beecher at the Miss Southern Utah Scholarship Competition, St. George, Utah, Sept. 25, 2021 | Photo courtesy of Brenley Veater, St. George News

Because of the amount of work it requires, preparation for the 2022 competition began when Veater won the title of Miss Southern Utah. The competition is split into multiple phases, which require participants to have a social impact initiative, showcase their talent and give an interview, Veater said.

Veater said she’s been working with a vocal coach to refine a more traditional talent and participating in mock interviews. She’s also turned in a resume and headshots.

“The glam shots – at the end of the day, it still has that pageant feel to it, which is good,” she said. “But the Miss America organization is evolving so quickly … It’s an invitation for people like me that are very interested in STEM and pursuing a business idea. I need to have a partnership and that’s what Miss America is.”

Orvin said those who have worked with Veater at the Miss Southern Utah competition have enjoyed getting to know her and are looking forward to seeing her hard work pay off.

What’s next?

Miss Southern Utah Brenley Veater, Snow Canyon State Park, Utah, date not specified | Photo by Sara Bowles, St. George News

Veater plans to work toward her bachelor’s degree at Brigham Young University, as it offers a degree in cybersecurity. Additionally, she is working with Utah Tech’s Board of Trustees to offer the program locally but said it will take a tremendous amount of work. She hopes to complete her master’s degree in Southern Utah.

“I would love to continue my education at Utah Tech because I love the culture,” she said. “I love St. George. I want to stay in Southern Utah but for the interim where Brigham Young University offers the degree that I need, I’m going to go and pursue that just to sharpen my skills.”

Those interested can follow along with Veater’s week at Miss Utah and learn more about upcoming Miss Southern Utah workshops and competitions, on the organization’s Instagram and Facebook, Orvin said.

Photo Gallery

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2022, all rights reserved.





Click Here For The Original Source

. . . . . . .