'Cybermom' Knows Best

Leslie Corbo

As a confidant and mentor, Cybersecurity Professor Leslie Corbo understands the personal struggles some students face as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. How she's helping them succeed in the face of unprecedented challenges.

To her students, Leslie Corbo is more than a cybersecurity professor. She’s “cybermom,” a nickname earned after years of connecting with students on a personal level.

"My students feel close to me, and over the years they’ve shared some of the not-so-great stuff they deal with,” says Corbo, an assistant professor of cybersecurity.

And like a mom, Corbo finds herself rooting for her students, even when they lose confidence in themselves.

“I’ve been known to track down students in the Caf after they miss a few classes. I’ll sit down with them and say, ‘what’s going on? Is everything OK?’”

But in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Corbo’s role as a cheerleader and confidant has become more important—and more challenging—than ever.

“I never realized until this pandemic how many of my students have serious challenges at home,” she says. “In some families, schoolwork had to take a backseat to family obligations - watching brothers, sisters, nieces, and nephews; taking care of sick or elderly family members; household chores; no food in the home; so many people living inside a small space.”

I never realized until this pandemic how many of my students have serious challenges at home.

For Corbo, this meant watching some of her top students fall behind, putting graduation—and their futures—at risk.

“When they're on campus, our students are on a level playing field. They have Internet access, professors who care about them, and a cafeteria that serves them well,” says Corbo. "It becomes challenging for some students when they go home."

Financial support for these students, she says, is “absolutely crucial” to helping them stay on track and reach their goals.

With her gift to the Pioneers Come Together: COVID-19 Relief Initiative, Corbo is helping provide emergency grants to students in need of the most basic tools to succeed.

“This is a challenging time for all of us,” says Corbo. “But it’s so important to support our students through this. A gift to this initiative goes a long way to helping students overcome the obstacles that stand in the way of earning a UC degree.”

To make a gift and learn more, please click here

All gifts made before midnight on May 31, 2020 will be matched, dollar-for-dollar, by a group of loyal donors, who have also pledged to donate an additional $5,000 when the effort reaches the 500-donor milestone.

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