Student Profile: Serena Owens and Xandra Johnston

by Dylan Connors, IT Services

Here at Miami, IT Services consists of many hardworking people. An important part of that group is our student workers who take the time to come in and help out! This week we are honoring two students, Serena Owens and Xandra Johnston, who work for the Information Security Office. Let’s go ahead and meet them!

Serena Owens

Selfie of young asian woman (Serena) smiling at the camera with sunglasses on top of her head and a blue and white sundress. She has long dark hair and brown eyes. In the background is the roman colosseum. The weather is sunnySerena is a junior pursuing a major in computer science with a minor in bioinformatics. She is in the combined program, working towards having a master’s degree in computer science. Her role in the ISO is to respond to possible phishing emails that people send to She then confirms whether or not the emails are phishing attempts, giving corresponding advice on how to avoid scams. It is her favorite part of the job because according to her, “I get to be sneaky and try to fool the staff into clicking links. It's very fun to come up with messages that are more intelligent than actual scammers’ messages.”

She also helps to educate students and faculty on dangerous phishing attempts through campaigns on campus. 

In her free time, Serena enjoys reading, playing piano, Serena standing to the right of a TV screen. The tv has words reading "Accessibility Checker". Serena is wearing purple sweatpants and a grey sweatshirtlistening to Taylor Swift, card games, and traveling. She recently studied abroad to complete her computer science capstone in Manchester, U.K. She got to work with a company that helps people who are currently unhoused, making software for them to make their websites more accessible. 

After that, she traveled to Italy, learning ethics and a new programming language. She got to experience Italian culture and visit different provinces in the south of the country. 

An interesting fact about Serena is that the summer before her first year at college, she broke her leg and had to re-teach herself how to walk. She told us: “I received no physical therapy, but I was so determined to not come to college with crutches… I forced myself to get off the couch and go walk every day until I could be without my crutches.” This proves Serena’s determination!


Xandra Johnston 

Xandra is a junior marketing major with a triple minor in Spanish, accounting, and emergingPhoto of young caucasian woman (Xandra) standing on a structure in front of the ocean. She has long golden brown hair and blue eyes. She is wearing a dark grey t-shirt and has a grey tote bag on her shoulder. technology in business and design (ETBD). Her role at InfoSec is marketing the latest cybersecurity tips and creating articles for students regarding the best practices with technology.

“In the past, I have designed posters, and other promotional materials to help advertise the department’s resources and better prepare students for cybersecurity threats,” Xandra said. 

Her favorite part of the job is learning more about cybersecurity and gaining real-world experience. 

Xandra is originally from Oregon but her family resides in northern California. She has studied abroad in Spain and is a figure skater on both the Intercollegiate Skating team and the Open CollegiateShot of 4 figure skaters, all with tight ponytails and wearing sparkly pink uniforms with white skates. Xandra skates in the middle Synchronized Skating team. She is currently the vice president of the Intercollegiate Skating team. She also has recently started her own Etsy business!

A fun fact about Xandra is that recently the Open Collegiate Synchronized Skating team won the Midwestern Synchronized Sectionals for the second year in a row. Congratulations to Xandra and her team!


Thank you, Serena and Xandra for all your hard work at IT Services! We can’t wait to see what your future holds!