Fernandez Family Cyber Security Lab

Ribbon cutting ceremony celebrates new Fernandez Family Cyber Security Lab

April 24, 2024

Yuma, AZ (April 24, 2024) – Arizona Western College recently unveiled the new Fernandez Family Cyber Security Lab to the community during a ribbon cutting ceremony on Tuesday, April 23.

Located in the Business Administration Building at the AWC Yuma Campus, this state-of-the-art learning hub will meet local workforce needs and provide students with hands-on experience using real-world tools to prepare for the threat landscape that cybersecurity professionals face today.

Students will be able to utilize the lab to obtain a number of certificates through Fortinet starting with the Fortinet Foundational Certificate, the Fortinet Associate Certificate, and additional Professional Certifications ranging from Network Security to Security Operations. 

“The goal of these courses is to give a solid foundation of practicality within the cybersecurity field so that upon completion, students will be able to jump into the workforce with real-world experience and confidence,” said Quentin Hennig, AWC Cybersecurity Professor. 

The 840-square-foot facility was funded as part of a $15 million allocation for workforce development programs that Arizona Western College received during the 2023 Legislative Session.

“Lives will be transformed through the education students receive here at Arizona Western College and the partnerships that we’ve established. We are well on our way to creating the thriving communities that we all desire,” said AWC President Dr. Daniel Corr

The Fernandez family has a long history of service and giving back to the Yuma community. Charlene, a fifth-generation Yuman, has spent her entire career in public service and fighting for both the city and county of Yuma. A graduate of AWC and Northern Arizona University-Yuma, Charlene worked for the offices of Congressman Ed Pastor and Governor Janet Napolitano before she was elected to the Arizona House of Representatives in 2016. She served as the Democratic Leader from 2018 until she resigned to become the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Arizona Director for Rural Development.

Her husband Sergio moved to Yuma after graduating from the University of Arizona. He spent his career giving back to the community in his role as a Vocational Rehabilitation Specialist for the Arizona Department of Economic Security.  

Their daughter Carlye graduated from NAU and has made a career in education, having worked at AWC, Gowan Science Academy, and now Kofa High School.

Their daughter Lisa has spent the majority of her career in the political realm working as the finance director for the Arizona Democratic Party, the campaign manager for Stanton for Arizona, and the chief of staff for Mayor Kate Gallego. She now works for Okland Construction.  

After graduating from Arizona State University, Brian moved to Washington, D.C., and worked for two Senators and the Congressional Black Caucus. He then founded and served as president of Symfodium, a software company that primarily worked with government clients. When Charlene resigned from her position in the Arizona House of Representatives in 2021, he was appointed to fill the vacancy. In 2022, Brian was elected to serve Legislative District 23 in the Arizona State Senate where he has been a fierce advocate for Yuma – including his work to secure a historic amount of funding for Arizona Western College in last year’s budget. 

Travis Mitchell 
Entrepreneurial College Marketing Director 
Arizona Western College