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Argotis founder Vaidya honors parents by launching Capitol scholarship

Nischit Vaidya’s career has taken him from entry-level IT jobs to becoming a sought-after security engineering consultant and, in 2013, starting his own firm, Argotis, Inc. Wishing to express his gratitude to his parents for their encouragement and support, while also wanting to help talented young cybersecurity students meet the challenge of paying their tuition bills, Vaidya decided to establish an annual scholarship at Capitol Technology University.

The Niranjan and Mira Vaidya Scholarship, launched this year, provides support for cybersecurity students with financial need who have demonstrated academic merit (with a GPA of at least 3.5). Two $1,000 awards will be given each year, one to a male junior-year student and the other to a female.

“I’ve met many students with great potential who tell me about the difficulties they’ve had in paying for college – how they’d like to take a class or enroll in a program, but aren’t able to afford the cost,” Vaidya said. “And I know what it’s like. I worked full-time when I was in school, and now that I’m in a position to help, I want to do whatever I can.”

It’s also a way of building a family legacy, he said.

 “My parents are strong believers in education,” Vaidya said. “They came to this country from India in 1982, and it wasn’t easy for them. They struggled with multiple jobs and faced language barriers, and without all their efforts I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

Vaidya could have launched the scholarship at any number of institutions, but he had particular reasons for choosing Capitol. He received his master’s degree from the university in 2012 and has taught as a member of the adjunct faculty.

“I believe Capitol is still one of the best schools when it comes to cyber,” Vaidya says. “I’ve always been appreciative of the Cyber Lab and the overall focus on making sure students get the best possible education. The strength of the program is in the teachers. And because it’s a smaller school, students get better access to the instructors and the resources. I’ve always loved the program and am glad that I’ve been able to be a part of it.”

His contribution to the program isn’t limited to his teaching and the new scholarship. As Argotis grows, he hopes to partner with Capitol in setting up labs and other resources – and, because he’s familiar with the caliber of Capitol’s students, he anticipates being able to offer job opportunities.

In the meantime, Vaidya has volunteered to take on the role of mentor and organize panels for students twice a year during which he and selected colleagues will provide their insights on career building and assist students with their questions. The focus, he says, won’t just be on skill sets, internships, certifications, and interviewing tips – but, just as importantly, on staying motivated in the face of obstacles.

That’s something he’s learned to do over the years, starting with academic struggles after he graduated high school and began attending college.  “I was failing my classes,” he notes. “One year I was on academic probation for getting a 1.8 GPA!”

It took persistence to move past that initial setback and regain the confidence needed not only to obtain the certifications that launched his IT career, but also to complete degrees at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

“I want students to know that those of us who are established in the field also faced difficulties,” Vaidya said. “We’ve had moments where we’ve wanted to just give up, whether it’s because of financial constraints or any of the other hardships that life has to offer. And we struggled through it and kept striving, and now we’re in a position to achieve our dreams.”

“I’m very passionate. I don’t only teach students about the subject matter,” he said. “I teach about my life experiences and try to draw insights that can assist my students. You could have a 19-year-old who is struggling with bad grades, or struggling with the fact that their dad is in the hospital or going through other challenges – and you want them to know they can overcome it. Anyone can write a check and give money. It takes a lot more than that to actually impact somebody’s life and try to be a part of it and hopefully change it.”

Tuesday, June 14, 2016