Above Par: A student athlete’s experience interning for the Pentagon

Meet Ahja Crosby

  • Class: Junior
  • GPA: 4.0
  • Studying: BS Cyber Defense
  • Hometown: Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Internship: Space Force, United States Pentagon

Ahja Crosby is leaving her mark both on and off the course. Working hard to be top of her class in cyber defense while also being a strong member of the women’s golf team would seem daunting to most students — but not Crosby. This past summer, she even found time to intern at the United States Pentagon.

Originally from Nevada, Crosby first heard of Davenport when she was searching online for schools with strong cyber defense programs. Being drawn to Davenport’s small class sizes and the opportunity to join the women’s golf team, Crosby quickly decided to come to the Midwest for school. She was also awarded a prestigious CyberCorps Scholarship for Service (SFS) through Davenport’s partnership with the National Science Foundation.

Giving it her all

Crosby always knew she wanted to study cybersecurity, which she also knew would mean working hard. According to Adeva, a global talent network, only 25% of all jobs in the tech industry are held by women. That number gets cut down to less than 10% when considering women of color. This is all despite the fact that women make up half of the total workforce.

“Being a woman in tech I know I will have to work hard to achieve success,” said Crosby. “I have to put my all into everything I do. It’s not easy, and sometimes it can be exhausting, but the reward is what keeps me going.”

The reward for Crosby is not only evident in academics but has also shown through her involvement on the women’s golf team. It has only been five years since Crosby began playing golf competitively, something she attributes to her father. “He taught me how to play and never missed a tournament in high school,” she said. Davenport allowed her to continue this passion.

In her second season playing golf for Davenport, she is looking forward to things being a bit more normal, after last year’s season was cut short as a result of the pandemic. Her biggest advice to other students trying to juggle it all is, “Find what works best for you and get organized to stay ahead of deadlines,” said Crosby. For her, this means writing everything down on a giant whiteboard.

Gaining real-world experience

Crosby heard about a cyber defense internship at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., through her sister who is an active member of the United States Air Force. After applying, she was offered a summer internship with Space Force.

Over the summer, Crosby and a team of fellow cyber defense, interns worked on a variety of projects that covered not only innovative technology but also business practices. Her favorite project was UI Path, an automated processing system used to increase efficiencies when working with repetitive tasks. She was assigned with getting acquainted with this system and presenting its usage to military personal.

Crosby has since been offered to continue her internship in the summer 2022 and hopes this opportunity will turn into a full-time position after she earns her degree. She has always seen herself working for the government in a role where she can feel like she is contributing to the nation. Crosby credits her classes at Davenport for helping her feel prepared for the projects and tasks she faced as an intern.

Get to know the women’s golf team

“I feel very proud to work for an athletic department that values community and academics as much as winning scores — Davenport is such a special place. I love getting to make an impact in the lives of my players, I truly enjoy every aspect of my job.” — Melanie Loughin, Head coach

Established: 2007

Roster: Courtney Coffman, Ahja Crosby, Karlee Hallberg, Isabella Heintzelman, Mia Korns, Kelsey Malone, Serena Martinez, Hannah Meloche, Natalie Samdal

Awards: Team honored twice as Women’s Golf Coaches Association (WGCA) All-Scholar Team with the best GPA in NCAA DII nationwide

2020-21 Season highlights: Team sets low 54 school record, 4th place finish in the GLIAC and Team Scoring Average – 326.67

Click here to find our more about the women’s golf team


This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1921840. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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