Chancellor Medallion Recipient: Meet 2024 PNW graduate Abbie McDowell

May 3, 2024
Abigail McDowell

Abbie McDowell, ’24, has loved working with technology since middle school. That led her to earn a bachelor of science degree in Cybersecurity from the College of Technology at Purdue University Northwest (PNW). She will also earn a minor in Philosophy.

A random suggestion from a friend while in high school put her on the path to study cybersecurity and a required class in philosophy led to her minor. “I saw how philosophy impacted my future career,” says McDowell. “I think it’s relevant in any field and we need more of it in our world.” She believes her minor will help her make tough decisions and strong rational arguments for the things she believes in.

A three-year member of the PNW Pride women’s basketball team, McDowell served as vice president of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC). In that position, she helped organize the Trunk or Treat event to raise funds for the Make-a-Wish Foundation, a school supply drive to benefit the School City of Hammond and a food drive to stock the PNW Food Pantry. She was also a tutor for mathematics and cybersecurity courses.

The Tecumseh, Mich. native is the recipient of a Chancellor Medallion, an honor awarded to baccalaureate candidates with the highest grade point average in each academic college.

After graduation, McDowell will be starting her career as a cybersecurity analyst at Scientia LLC in Bloomington. She is part of the 4+1 degree program which allows qualified students to earn both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in a five-year time period. She will spend the next year earning her master’s degree online in Technology, Leadership and Management. She eventually sees herself in a management role in the field of technology or cybersecurity.

What did you like most about the Cybersecurity program at PNW?

“I really like the small class sizes because it gives you the opportunity to form relationships with the professors and your classmates. If I had a question, was struggling on an assignment or a lab, it was easy to go and ask an instructor or text a classmate for help.”

What does being named a Chancellor Medallion recipient mean to you?

“It was a huge honor. Being a woman in a male dominated field and winning such a prestigious award, I feel like I’m doing something so much bigger than myself. One of the reasons I chose cybersecurity is it’s a very male dominated field and it could use some female perspective. I want to be part of that and make it a more welcoming field for women. To receive this award as a woman in this field means a lot to me – it’s very special.”

How do you think your involvement in campus organizations and activities helped define your success at PNW?

“There were so many great opportunities for me to develop my skills. First, time management because I was juggling so many things. In SAAC, I learned leadership and organizational skills that I will definitely be using in the future.”

“Basketball taught me perseverance and hard work. In basketball, you may not always get the results you work for but you have to keep on working, have a good attitude and be a good teammate. Tutoring taught me how to explain concepts in a way that other people with less technical knowledge can understand.”

Being a woman in a male dominated field and winning such a prestigious award, I feel like I’m doing something so much bigger than myself.

Abbie McDowell, ‘24, Cybersecurity

Did you have any challenges while attending PNW?

“Being a student-athlete and also focusing on academics was a challenge and both were non-negotiable for me. Those two things take a lot of hard work and commitment and there were a lot of sacrifices with my social life. It also took perseverance and being able to focus on what needs to be done. It was tough to manage everything at times but I know it will set me up for the future.”

What words of advice would you share with prospective students looking to attend PNW?

“Work hard because it’s really going to pay off. Get out of your comfort zone and make new friends.

Stay focused on school but at the same time make sure you have plenty of fun.”

Was there anyone at PNW who inspired or encouraged you along the way?

Natalie JarrettNatalie Jarrett

Assistant athletic director for student success/athletics

“Basketball was not always as easy as school was for me. You can work hard on a school assignment and be pretty sure you’ll get a 100 percent. You can spend hours in the gym practicing and in a game you can miss every shot – there are no guarantee of results. She constantly reminded me of all the other things that I was doing well and kept me positive.”

Spring 2024 Graduate Candidate Teja Brown

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