Ex-Firefighter Pursues a Fresh Start in Cyber Security
David Hereid is no stranger to risk. Serving as a firefighter paramedic for 12 years, he is familiar with putting himself in danger to help others. When he lost his sight in 2007, however, his world changed.
Instead of being the one with all the solutions, David had to wrestle with asking for help himself. Having to learn new ways to do simple tasks proved challenging. Things he used to take for granted—like driving—became daily obstacles. Yet, as a man with tested dedication, David was not to be stopped.
After owning a small business for 8 years, he met another professional with vision impairment—a practicing defense attorney. Witnessing someone else with a similar condition be successful, David’s perspective began to shift.
This led him to pursue a Paralegal Associate’s degree at Rasmussen. By taking courses online, he graduated in June of 2020 and now works at a criminal defense law firm. Though his current role is a lot different than his work at the fire department, his passion for helping others is still a big part of what he does.
“One of the reasons I got into law was because I'm still helping people—just in a different manner,” says David.
Discovering a spark in technology
Around the same time that David enrolled in the paralegal program, something big happened.
“I received the greatest gift that I think a family could ever give,” he says.
It’s called eSight—a pair of glasses that uses video technology to help him see. Not only does this device help David reclaim abilities like reading, watching movies, and working on his computer, but it gave him the confidence he needed to pursue more in his career.
“Without the glasses, my vision is 20/500. The glasses corrected it to 20/30.”
The capabilities amazed David, and he began to wonder if technology was a field he should pursue. A paralegal course on tech in the courtroom further solidified his interest, and soon his goals began to shift again.
“As COVID came and everything changed, I saw that technology was the way of the future, so I really started looking into information technology.”
Though some did not see the connection between law and IT, David says the link is clear. By using his skills in both areas, he can help safeguard people’s private information through cyber security. Just as he protected victims as a first responder, he will now protect them from threats online. He is currently working on his Bachelor’s degree in Cyber Security at Rasmussen and is set to graduate in Spring 2022.
Finding a way forward
Though David has overcome more obstacles than most, he credits his support network of instructors, friends and family for helping him get through.
“My wife is a big supporter—a big pusher when times get tough,” he says. “I couldn't ask for a better friend and it's just a bonus that we are married.”
As he talks about helping her hang bookshelves, it’s clear that there’s a lot more to David than his vision impairment.
“My sister tells me I don't have a disability. I have a unique ability,” he says.
One of David’s favorite quotes comes from Thomas Edison about inventing the lightbulb: “I didn't fail. I just found 2,000 ways not to make a lightbulb; I only needed to find one way to make it work.”
It’s this philosophy that David applies in every aspect of his life. For students who may be facing similar obstacles, he offers this advice.
“Don't give up. Keep pushing forward, and when you need it, ask for help.”