Highlights from BYU colleges: Cybersecurity program earns top 10, alumna runs thriving drama club


Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering

The BYU Cybersecurity department’s resources include the pictured virtual escape room. The cybersecurity program earned a top ten ranking from Cyber Degrees EDU. (Sawyer Nunley)

Brigham Young University’s cybersecurity program earned a top ten ranking from Cyber Degrees EDU for the best college for the degree. Cyber Degrees EDU provides resources to help students pursue the best cybersecurity and computer science degrees. Their ranking placed the BYU program, established in 2018, as tenth-best for its tuition cost, graduation rate, retention rate and other statistics. The fast-growing cybersecurity field involves creating and analyzing secure computer systems through studying risk management, law and technology. The BYU program has also been recognized as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education by the National Security Association.

College of Fine Arts and Communications

Alumna Summer Lewis poses with a group of her theatre students at her drama club in Japan. (Summer Lewis)

A BYU theatre education alumna operates a thriving drama club for military families in Japan. Summer Lewis started the extracurricular club in 2010 when her husband, Ben, was hired to teach for the Department of Defense Education Activities in Japan. The Kinnick High School drama club has grown from six actors showing up at the first audition to sixty attending the most recent reading. Although impeded in 2020 by the COVID-19 pandemic, the group has participated in three shows per year in the past: a musical, a one-act play at the Far East Drama Festival, and a show adapting local students’ writing for the stage. The club is working this year to create pandemic-friendly adaptations, including pre-recorded dialogue and puppets to make the face masks and lack of microphones less conspicuous.

Lewis said working as the facilities stage manager at BYU and gaining experience with mainstage productions and student shows prepared her for this current role. She was inspired to create the drama club program by the interactions she enjoyed working with the Young Company at BYU.

“I treasure the notes and emails we get from former students who tell us how performing with us has impacted their lives by helping them feel safe and welcome, giving them tools to develop self-confidence and communication skills that translate into the real world,” Lewis said. “Teaching theatre is a gift you give that never stops giving back.”

School of Communications

Communications professor Jessica Zurcher received the Ruth S. Silver Fellowship in Mass Media Ethics for her research. (School of Communications)
Communications professor Clark Callahan received the David P. Forsyth Memorial Research Award in Mass Communications for his research. (School of Communications)

Two professors in the Brigham Young University School of Communications have won prestigious awards from the school for their research. Clark Callahan was selected as the recipient of the David P. Forsyth Memorial Research Award for 2020-2023, and Jessica Zurcher received the Ruth S. Silver Award in Mass Media Ethics for 2020-2021.

The Forsyth award honors David P. Forsyth, who served as the BYU communications chairman 1990-1995. The Silver fellowship was named in honor of communications supporter and advocate Ruth S. Silver. Both awards recognize exceptional research and publications among communications faculty. 

“It’s exciting to see students get involved in research,” Callahan said. Callahan hopes to use the Forsyth award to help more undergraduates and graduate students. “The more we as faculty can publish with students in academic journals, the more they become engaged in research.” 

“I am sincerely appreciative of Ruth S. Silver’s generosity and vision to support works that stand for moral and ethical education and actions,” Zurcher said. “BYU is my happy place. It’s the place I come to feel inspired and influence others for good, and I am grateful for the resources our school offers to help fulfill these goals.”

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