Rising senior attends summer program at Harvard Business School

Administration of justice major Darwin Salazar ’18 hasn’t had much downtime this summer.

In mid-June, he took a break from his two internships to attend Harvard Business School’s Summer Venture in Management Program (SVMP), a highly competitive program for rising college seniors designed to increase diversity and opportunity in business education.

Salazar was introduced to the program by Corey Thomas, CEO of cybersecurity company Rapid7 and an SVMP alumnus, who praised the impact SVMP had on his own career. “After that conversation, I did some research on the program and saw that it was very competitive and very rewarding, which is what ultimately led me to apply,” Salazar said. “I also had never taken a business course in my life, which made the program even more appealing to me.”

During the week-long residential program, Salazar attended classes that used the renowned Harvard Business School case study method to facilitate shared learning. Studies ranged from Chile’s heavy reliance on a natural resource for its economic stability to Threadless’ self-sustainable business model to Beyonce’s surprise album release.

In addition to lessons about financial planning, investing and ethical decision-making, Salazar learned a lot about himself. “After the first day of classes, I told myself that I would never second-guess my knowledge or skills by limiting myself to certain opportunities,” he said. “I also learned that if you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room. These are the environments that drive change and force you to think outside of your common mental parameters.”

After SVMP, Salazar returned to his primary internship in Washington, D.C., where he is working in an information security and business continuity role for the financial institution ICMA-RC. Additionally, he has continued his internship with Francesca Spidalieri, senior fellow for cyber leadership at Salve Regina’s Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy.

“I have also been mentoring some students and attending cybersecurity networking events in the D.C. metropolitan area,” he added. “And thanks to the International Consortium of Minority Cybersecurity Professionals and their amazing initiatives, I attended the biggest cybersecurity conferences in the world, BlackHat and DEF CON, which were both held in Las Vegas.”

Growing up in socioeconomically challenging conditions in Providence’s South Side helped to shape Salazar’s drive for success. “I was exposed to situations that most children just don’t see,” he said. “This included people carrying out violent and malicious acts, and doing whatever it took to acquire money.”

As he grew older, several of Salazar’s friends dropped out of school, went to prison or were even lost to gun violence. “I noticed all the mistakes that the people around me had committed, and would tell myself that I should avoid that course of action,” he said. “This allowed me to not only learn from my mistakes but from others’ as well. My upbringing is why I work hard, why I mentor inner-city students, why I love giving back and why I remain humble.”

Salazar said his Salve Regina education has been highly instrumental in cementing his career aspirations. After earning his bachelor’s degree next spring, he’ll stay at the University to complete his master’s degree in administration of justice and homeland security, focusing on cybersecurity and digital forensics. Salazar plans to work in digital forensics and eventually pursue the dual Juris Doctor/Master of Business Administration degree.

“My dream is to open a data privacy legal practice to defend our privacy rights and use my experience to bridge the technical language divide in courts,” Salazar said. “I always knew that I wanted to do something cybersecurity-related, but I never saw the beautiful combination that pre-law and cybersecurity could turn out to be. This has recently come to fruition with all the legal battles surrounding data ownership, data collection methods and encrypted platforms.”

Salazar said that many of Salve Regina’s faculty and administrators – including President Jane Gerety, RSM and dean of students Malcolm Smith – have played vital roles during his time at the University. “All of the faculty members from the administration of justice department, several from the business department and Francesca Spidalieri at the Pell Center have each been instrumental to my growth and perspective,” he added. “Millions of thanks to them.”

4 comments

  1. This article is so inspiring. Darwin is a very interesting young man with goals I believe he will achieve. One conversation with this young man and you’ll walk away knowing he is passionate about cyber security and believes he can make a difference. Much success to him reaching all of his goals in record time.

  2. Lorena says:

    Thanks for sharing your experience!!

  3. Jamal Brown, PMP, CISSP says:

    After meeting Darwin during the 2017 Blackhat conference and spending time with him I immediately knew this young man was extremely exception and will be someone very important one day. Continue to strive and work hard and I promise you, he will be a decision maker in the realms of cyber law in the future.

  4. Diane Perry Burdick says:

    Darwin I am so proud of you and do hope you continue to come back to South Providence to share your experiences with the younger students! Since I met you 7 years ago I have watched you make hard decisions that have gotten you to where you are today!

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