From Here: The Campaign for Bowdoin

“If you know what you're doing is right, you just have to stand firm.”

Cybersecurity expert Maj. Marnita Thompson Eaddie ’90 (USAF, Ret.) said that her decision to come to Brunswick for college was simple. “I loved the campus and people I met when I visited, but I chose Bowdoin because they gave me the most money.”

Marnita Thompson Eaddie '90 speaks on campus during the AFAM50 Anniversary.
Marnita Thompson Eaddie '90 speaks on an alumnae panel during Bowdoin's AF/AM/50 anniversary.

One of nine children, Marnita grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. Her parents were divorced, and when her dad dropped her off at Bowdoin for her first semester, he gave her five dollars. “It was the most I ever got from him, or from my mom, after I graduated from high school.”

Marnita joined the field hockey team as a first-year student, but she had to quit the squad after only a couple of practices so that she could work. A physics major and computer science minor, Marnita was a talented math student, and she was often paid to tutor other students or to run math labs where students could come in with questions.

Back on campus for the AF/AM/50 celebration, she told a story about a time a student she was tutoring asked her if she was only admitted to Bowdoin because she was black.

“In the STEM field, you’re going to get that everywhere. Everybody’s going to think you don’t belong at the table. Bowdoin gave me the confidence to know that, no matter what they see, I do.”

Marnita was inspired by her work with Bowdoin professor Allen Tucker, an early leader in the teaching of computer science at liberal arts colleges. 

She went on to earn a master’s degree in the field with an emphasis on computer security from the Air Force Institute of Technology, and she is the author of Dialable Cryptography for Wireless Networks, which describes her research into developing an adaptive cryptographic protocol to allow the secure transfer of sensitive or classified information over wireless networks.

She is currently working at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio, validating cybersecurity practices and implementation for Air Force bases.

Marnita Thompson Eaddie '90 works in a Bowdoin computer lab in the spring of 1989. Photo via Special Collections & Archives.
Marnita working in a Bowdoin computer lab in the spring of 1989. Special Collections & Archives.

“In the military, you’re always dealing with power structures and hierarchy. There are things you have to decide, as a leader—what you will do and what you won’t do. In cybersecurity, you’re responsible for things above your rank, things that can impact the mission. And you have senior leaders who might be pressuring you.

But if you know what you’re doing is right, you just have to stand firm. My integrity is the most important.”

“A Seat at the Table”: A Forum with Alumnae Leaders

From Bowdoin's AF/AM/50 anniversary, watch this timely and insightful discussion about black women and leadership. Hear the experiences faced by black women from arrival on Bowdoin’s campus, to adjustment, to gaining “a seat at the table.”

Top image: Allen Tucker teaching a computer science course in 1989. Special Collections & Archives.

The From Here campaign is raising money to support financial aid, and to infuse the curriculum with the tools needed for digital literacy, quantitative reasoning, and ethical decision-making.

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