Nikitha KommeraA Saint Paul resident has been selected as a fall semester Outstanding Student at Metropolitan State University.

Nikitha Kommera, who graduated with a master of computer science, was selected as an outstanding graduate student in the university's College of Sciences. She was one of 1,368 students receiving bachelor's and master's degrees at Metropolitan State's 101st commencement exercises on Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017 in Minneapolis.

After completing her undergrad from a top university in Telangana, India, Kommera decided she would pursue a master's degree in information technology in the United States. Finding a potential National Science Foundation research opportunity in cybersecurity at Metropolitan State sealed the deal for her.

She transferred from the University of Michigan to Metropolitan State in spring 2016. She started as a graduate research assistant under Dr. Faisal Kaleem. She drew on technical skills that she had learned as far back as high school, and went to work.

"I was inspired by Dr. Faisal to pursue a career in the field of cybersecurity," she said. Her first months of research came with challenges. "I was neither aware of the cybersecurity nor the project. But it is because of Dr. Faisal's trust in my capabilities he gave me a chance to get on board."

Kommera pushed through the difficulties for two years, balancing school and research. She also worked full-time to guarantee her project deadlines were met.

Kommera is a first-generation college graduate in her family. "My parents are extremely happy and proud of my achievements. They always dreamt of making my dreams come true and wanted me to succeed the way I want to succeed in life. I'm happy I made them proud." Her parents attended her graduation ceremony on Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017.

With a recent move to Chicago, Kommera seeks opportunities to serve and protect the community from cybercrime. "I want to continue a lifelong journey towards making a significant contribution in the field of cybersecurity." When she's not busting cyber-criminals, Kommera can be found at the gym, spending time with her family or relaxing with a book.