Today@Sam Article

Commencement Spotlight: Hayden Marshall

Nov. 28, 2023
SHSU Media Contact: Mikah Boyd


Hayden Marshall
Austin, Texas
Bachelor of Science in Computing Science (Information Systems)

To Hayden Marshall, attending Sam Houston State University was an easy decision. He had multiple friends and a family member study here who highly recommended the university for its programs and homey feel.

“They had mentioned there was a lot of good Christian groups on campus and, as a Christian myself, I was like yes I want to go where I know that there’s a good community and I can get plugged in pretty quick,” Marshall said.

After coming to campus, he checked out the various organizations that aligned with his interests and eventually joined the Baptist Student Ministry and has been a part of that group for two years. For Marshall, having a community to belong to on campus has made all the difference to him.

“It’s kind of changed the way that I see why I go to college. It started out just going to class just because I need to get this degree,” Marshall said. “So I’m going to go to these classes and do it all, but now it’s become more of a joy because I get to meet people and talk with people and engage in deep conversations with them more than academics.”

For over a year, Marshall has juggled continuing his education with his responsibilities as an intern with the Institute of Homeland Security (IHS) within the College of Criminal Justice. Through this internship, he developed the IHS websites and an app to track hazardous materials for the Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office.

Marshall was presented with the unique opportunity to work with the IHS after meeting Michael Aspland, the institute’s director while visiting a local church. As the two got to chatting, Aspland told Marshall how his computer science expertise could help the institute.

“He (Aspland) initially said cybersecurity but then he said they also need help developing a website,” Marshall said. “He said if I wanted to do that then I was more than welcome to. I went through the application process and after the interview he stood up and was like, well if you want it, the job is yours, so I took it right then and there.” Haydencommencement-3.jpeg

With the logistics squared away, Marshall jumped into his internship and got to work on the website.

“I’ve had expertise now, not only in coding but I took some web design classes at my community college about three years ago,” Marshall said. “Having both of those, I was able to go in and really start being able to understand what they wanted and say this is the limitations and this is what we have to work with.”

As he worked on the website, Marshall collaborated with his IHS team members to develop webpages for other projects and collaborative works. One such collaboration was with a project manager over the health care sector. By working together, they created a landing page for the manager’s goal of providing Houston-area healthcare partners with IHS with a centralized location for information.

On top of working with the health program manager and their partners, Marshall also helped the newly established Center for Intelligence and Crime Analysis. Thanks to his help, the page is up and running, allowing the center to share information about its work and the classes that it offers.

Marshall was later able assist in developing an app for the Harris County Fire Marshal. The project turned into a contract with one of his professors, resulting in Marshall’s work on the app’s development counting toward his course credit. On top of this, the app assists HCFM in sharing detailed information on chemical storage locations for response coordination at incidents such as chemical spills or explosions with first responders in the affected areas. 

Completing these projects serve a dual purpose for Marshall, on one hand, he is building up impressive experience and on the other his work is contributing to a greater good.

“I really enjoyed it, it changed the trajectory of what I was thinking I wanted to do after graduation,” Marshall said. “Originally, I was very big into NASA, I love outer space and science and that’s what I wanted to do. But now, having worked with IHS and having worked with different projects, I like working on software and apps and things for something that has a little bit more meaning behind it.”

With all of this experience under his belt, Marshall is looking to the future. He shared that there is a firm that was watching and waiting for him to refine his skills a little more before adding him to their team. Thanks to his work at the IHS and with the Harris County Fire Marshal, he feels confident that he has risen to their expectations. As he stands on the cusp of his next journey, Marshall appreciates those who ignited and supported his passion for computer science.

“A lot of it comes down to the professors I’ve had within the computer science department,” Marshall said. “There are several that have a lot of industry experience and they’re more than willing to share that in class or if you have questions, they just love talking about that and they know what it’s like getting out there and working within that. Seeing their passion for that is kind of like osmosis and it makes me more passionate about it.”

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