Both of Jovan Fitzgerald’s parents passed away in his first year of high school. He moved in with an aunt and applied himself to his studies, especially his favorite: math. He dreamed of one day joining the U.S. Marine Corps but tried college first, for his family.

It was a rewarding time — he met his future wife, built some of his best friendships, and earned internships at Disney World’s competitive “Imagineering” program while studying math and computer science.

But, ultimately, it wasn’t fulfilling. Jovan decided it was finally time to do what he’d longed to since childhood: He joined the Marines.

After nine years in the Corps serving as a data administrator and cybersecurity technician, Jovan faced a crossroads.

“My decision to leave the Marine Corps was a pretty difficult one,” he says. “I had a very successful career, and I felt like, ’Am I ready to be interacting with civilians at that level?’”

But after learning about Microsoft Software & Systems Academy (MSSA), Jovan thought it was an ideal solution for his particular situation.

So Jovan enrolled in the first MSSA cohort for cybersecurity in Camp Pendleton, California, relishing its blend of two of his passions: mathematics and psychology. He immersed himself in the study of social engineering.

Now, as part of the incident response team, Jovan solves issues daily that impact Microsoft’s internal network. He still finds it a great mix of his personal and professional interests — the rare job that equips him to support his wellbeing while accomplishing his goals.

“I can grow my hair, be myself, participate in the things I want to,” Jovan says. “And one of the things my wife and I wanted to do was start a family, and we’ve been successful at that.”

They welcomed their first daughter in March 2019.

Check out the stories from these MSSA graduates to learn more about the program and how it can set you up for the next rewarding phase of your life: