For the 2023-2024 academic year, Palo Alto Networks is once again collaborating with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) to select and award up to $10,000 scholarships to outstanding students.
Cyber Scholar Dedicated to Delivering for Women
By: Anthony Tuttle, Social Impact Program Manager
The Palo Alto Networks Cyber Scholars program is part of our Cyber STARS initiative, which aims to address the racial disparity in technology fields – particularly in the Black community – by increasing exposure, access, opportunities, and support to underrepresented students.
In addition to direct financial assistance to pursue their academic goals, Cyber Scholars are also paired with a Palo Alto Networks mentor to support their personal and professional growth. The first cohort of 14 Cyber Scholars for the 2022-2023 academic year all attended Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Predominantly Black Institutions (PBIs).
Throughout Black History Month and Women's History Month, we’ve shared the stories of some of our stellar 2022-2023 Cyber Scholars in technology-related STEM fields. Our final student showcase in this series is about a student who believes better reproductive healthcare for women can also help build a brighter future.
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While she is proud to be among the first cohort of Palo Alto Networks Cyber Scholars, Gizelle Harris is focused on a different approach to securing a brighter future.
Gizelle, a sophomore majoring in biology at Morgan State University, has her sights set on medical school and a career as an obstetrician-gynecologist. For her, it’s more a calling than it is a profession.
“It is one of the most essential doctors in a woman’s life,” Gizelle said. “Assisting women through all their reproductive stages is my passion.”
Pursuit of that passion helps her cope with “the extensive amount of work I must complete” and Gizelle is grateful for the financial and personal benefits she gets as a Palo Alto Networks Cyber Scholar.
“Knowing that I have support in all aspects throughout my matriculation is comforting and allows me to focus on my studies,” she said.
Even with a full course load, Gizelle is making time to gain practical experience by taking part in activities outside the classroom.
“I am a member of the Student Research Center, which focuses on academic growth and research opportunities,” she said. “I am also a patient volunteer through a Johns Hopkins program that educates and provides resources to the youth regarding reproductive health.”
When she’s not busy with all of that, Gizelle says she likes to read, check out new restaurants and go to the movies.
As far as her commitment to women’s reproductive health, Gizelle said that started with a personal experience that left a major impression.
“Witnessing my aunt struggle with infertility for 10 years motivated me to help Black women overcome these obstacles,” she said. “My cousins would not be here without the advancements in science and the help of doctors.”
In addition to helping bring babies into the world, Gizelle also plans to dedicate herself to caring for them once they get here in addition to her focus on the larger goal of making each day safer than the one before.
“Considering the alarming infant mortality rate among Black babies and other pregnancy issues that plague the Black community, I strive to go into women's health, and to decrease the pregnancy problems of Black women by providing outstanding care to ensure optimal health outcomes,” Gizelle said. “Being a Black woman, I want to eliminate health disparities in my community and validate the unheard voices of Black women.”
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