September 25, 2015 –
FORT GORDON, Ga. – In a year of groundbreaking achievements for women in the military, the induction of cyber Soldiers, and citizen Soldiers continuously proving their worth in the private sector as well as military, one U.S. Army Reserve Soldier stands out.
Staff Sgt. Lydia Seaborn recently became the first Army Reserve female graduate from the 25D Cyber Network Defender military occupational specialty course at Fort Gordon. That achievement was only intensified by the fact that Seaborn also became the first female Distinguished Honor Graduate and the first TPU (Troop Program Unit) Army Reserve Soldier to graduate the active duty Army MOS School.
Only a few months prior in February, Chief of Army Reserve Lt. Gen. Jeffrey W. Talley signed the statement of support signifying the beginning of the partnership with the Army Reserve to educate and employ cyber Soldiers during the Army Reserve Private Public Partnership Cyber Security Signing.
"The power of the Army Reserve is matching civilian professional skills with their military careers; this is a powerful and effective way to maintain Soldiers' advanced skills demanded by the Army and DOD," said Talley.
Seaborn, a Florida native who currently works at the Library of Congress as a Security Advisor, has been in the Army Reserve since 2002, after completing active duty service.
“I have held many different positions while in the Army Reserve,” Seaborn said. “I have been a system administrator, a domain admin, an information system security officer, an intrusion detection analyst, an organizational inspection program auditor, and most recently I have served as a forensic analyst with a small dabble in some malware analysis training.”
Seaborn is the epitome of Talley’s vision of matching civilian professional skills with their military career, utilizing all of her cumulative training in her civilian career where she provides oversight for the Library’s Continuous Monitoring Program, and serves as the liaison for all annual audits.
“All of the certifications you obtain during the course will help to advance you in your civilian career in the Cyber Security field,” Seaborn said.
A career field which is in need of a skilled work force according to Talley.
“The demand for these cyber security professionals and cyber experienced Soldiers far outpaces the current inventory," said Talley.
In the male driven Information Technology field, women like Seaborn are even more of an inventory rarity, making her accomplishments that much brighter.
“It really feels great to make such great strides not only as a Reservist, but as a female soldier,” Seaborn said. “I feel humbled, and extremely blessed to have had the experience.”
Seaborn who has a vast IT background in and out of the military, was intrigued when first learning about the opportunity for the newly offered 25D mos.
“I remember an article many years ago in the Army magazine, when it first mentioned this new concept called ‘Cyber Warfare,’ and I thought that would be the most AMAZING MOS, ‘I bet I could do that!’ and that’s all there was to it,” Seaborn said.
“I inquired about it throughout the years, and gained information on it when I could. Once I finally had the information I needed for applying as a Reserve Soldier, I jumped on it, had my packet ready a week later,” she added.
Showing up to the course and being the only female in her class and one of two females in the course alone, was not the only challenge Seaborn had to brace herself for.
“It was very mentally draining and it was hard spending the time away from my family,” Seaborn said. “Many people have used the term ‘drinking from a firehose,’ but this course I think is the definition of it.”
“It is a lot of material, and you need to retain it and utilize it,” Seaborn said. “You need to find the right balance between studying and maintaining focus, and allowing yourself some mental relaxation.”
Described as a “bleeding heart” by many who know her, Seaborn’s compassion and patience for many things in life helped her to find the right balance between the rigorous coursework and mental relaxation.
Even completing any of the most rigorous military courses in the world couldn’t compare to being a mother for Seaborn, or even another experience only few women have shared.
“One thing most people don’t know is that I actually served as a gestational surrogate for a couple I know, carrying and delivering their baby for them,” Seaborn said. “Being able to help grow a life is such a unique gift to give a couple who cannot do it on their own, and it was such an amazing experience. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
The family aspect of Seaborn’s life has been a strong factor in her military and civilian career success.
“My husband has been extremely instrumental to all of my success,” Seaborn said. “He has always given his complete trust in decisions I have made, supported me through all of it, and managed the household through my countless business trips in both my military and my civilian job.”
The most recent decision for Seaborn being the start of the 25D course which many like Talley feel has, and will continue to be a huge impact on the Army Reserve.
“It has a tremendous impact on the Army Reserve, just as it does in the active component or anywhere else in the world,” Seaborn said. “The Army Reserve isn’t just one weekend a month like most people think.”
“My unit I serve with right now supports an ongoing initiative that provides security and network monitoring, incident response and forensic analysis in the field to various middle-eastern countries to include Kuwait and Afghanistan,” she said. “Every year there is a deployment rotation and our soldiers go overseas to provide cyber security expertise that is needed.”
The accomplishments Seaborn has achieved wouldn’t be as significant to her if it didn’t reinforce the drive of other women in the field to have the same opportunities and take advantage of something that was once seen as male dominated.
“I could hope that it serves as an example for other female soldiers to not let the difficult choices stand in your way when it comes to going out there and grabbing what you want,” she said.
“I have noticed over the past few years that there are a lot more females now than when I first started working in the field, and a good majority of them do not have any military background,” she added. “I think the growth in the civilian sector is on par with the growth in the military, but there is still a ways to go.”
From women successfully completing Army Ranger School, to off-duty female U.S. Army Reserve combat medics saving the lives of strangers, women in the military have been standing out, and in the midst of it all, Seaborn, one of the U.S. Army’s newest cyber defenders has knocked down her own doors.
“I know if I can do it, anyone else can with the right foundations, focus and dedication,” Seaborn said.