Cybersecurity in Global Context: Hands-On Learning Experience in St. John's Rome

St. John's Study Abroad in Rome
By Raymond Ramdat

This is my reflection on the Cybersecurity in a Global Context program at St. John’s University and its impact on my personal and academic growth.

What is the Cybersecurity in a Global Context program?

The Cybersecurity in a Global Context program is a short-term study abroad program at St. John’s University’s Rome, Italy, campus. It is scheduled during spring break and offers hands-on cybersecurity experience to St. John’s students. It was launched by Suzanna Schmeelk, D.P.S., Ed.D., Assistant Professor of Cybersecurity and Director of M.S. in Cyber and Information Security, The Lesley H. and William L. Collins College of Professional Studies, and Denise M. Dragos, Associate Professor, Division of Computer Science, Mathematics, and Science

With the world becoming ever more connected via the internet on the heels of the pandemic, Spring 2024 marked the first opportunity students, 17 in total, could join Dr. Schmeelk and Professor Dragos in Rome to learn about cybersecurity through a global lens while also appreciating Rome’s rich history.

My Reflection in Rome  

Study Abroad in Rome St. John's

Exactly one week ago, after writing this blog, I would have been enjoying dinner in Naples, Italy, as part of the day trip a few friends and I took during our free day during the Cybersecurity in a Global Context program. The week-long embedded program in Rome, Italy, was one of my life’s best experiences as I visited Europe for the first time and looked at cybersecurity through a global lens.

Hands-On Cybersecurity Experience While Studying Abroad 

Overall, the trip holds personal and professional importance to me. After interning with EY as a Cybersecurity Consultant during the Summer of 2023, I realized how important it is to consider other world regions’ cybersecurity practices and measures, as the United States can always be inspired and adopt successful principles or learn from their mistakes. While I always knew how global an issue cybersecurity was, the internship and this trip emphasized this fact.

Of course, Italy, the place I got to call home for a week, is part of the European Union. During this program, I had the privilege of deep-diving into some of the proactive measures taken by the EU, especially regarding artificial intelligence (AI). Throughout the trip, I took notice of the data privacy principles when visiting websites in Italy and how their regulations and legislation affect internet use, as opposed to just reading about these differences while sitting in the United States. 

A Unique Look at the Program 

St. John's University Student Studying Abroad in Rome Through the Cybersecurity program

However, beyond just using the internet and taking note of the active legislation employed in the EU, we got to bring the beauty of the Cyber Security Systems program at St. John’s to the Rome campus and engage in some fantastic hands-on labs, including accessing the dark web and setting up wireless networks. These labs opened my eyes to how attached the internet is globally, how cybercrime could be committed anywhere, and how to configure a wireless router, which could double as a VPN server. They were an excellent addition that I will be proud to add to my résumé, discuss during an interview, and showcase to other cybersecurity experts.

The program also featured a wide variety of activities, such as speakers representing the Federal Bureau of Investigation stationed at the US Embassy and a local cybersecurity firm, and fabulous tours of the city center of Rome and within the Vatican, including a trip to the Swiss Guard Barracks, the Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel, and the Vatican Radio Museum. The speaking engagements and tours created an unforgettable experience that enhanced the program and produced an excellent, unique learning experience that I would recommend to any student.

Final Thoughts  

This short-term study abroad program was a fantastic avenue to learn about global cybersecurity practices and to create new personal memories with close friends. The week in Rome has generated long-term friendships and memories that give me even more reasons to return to Rome and make new memories.

Additional St. John’s University Resources 

Raymond Ramdat St. John's Student

Raymond Ramdat


Raymond Ramdat is a senior majoring in Cyber Security Systems who will graduate this month. He serves as President of the St. John’s University Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Student Chapter, which is the College’s premier organization for all tech majors, providing members with meetings, workshops, and labs that allow them to enhance their technical and professional skills.

He has had the privilege of being an intern at Cisco, Major League Baseball, and EY during his time at St. John’s University. On top of experiencing the Cybersecurity in a Global Context program, he spent his senior year on the St. John’s University Cyber Team, which brings cyber competitions to St. John’s students as another means of growing and enhancing their collaborative and technical skills.