Home ‘The future is bright for cybersecurity’: Virginia students earn national scholarships

‘The future is bright for cybersecurity’: Virginia students earn national scholarships

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Twelve Virginia students are national cyber scholars with honors and 208 are named in the National Cyber Scholarship program.

The students earned $732,000 in cyber training scholarships from the Virginia Information Technologies Agency (VITA) and the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE).

National cyber scholars with honors earn cyber training scholarships worth approximately $9,000 each, and national cyber scholars earn training scholarships worth approximately $3,000 each.

“We are so excited by the level of participation and success in this year’s CyberStart America competition,” Chief Information Officer of the Commonwealth Robert Osmond said. “Last year we had 53 national cyber scholars from Virginia. So, with this year’s total — 208 national cyber scholars, we have approximately four times more students who have earned scholarships! This means they also now have more opportunities to improve their cybersecurity skill sets and training, along with a potential interest in pursuing cybersecurity as a career field.”

By participating in the CyberStart America competition, the majority of the students qualified for scholarships. The competition is in partnership with the National Cyber Scholarship Foundation (NCSF) and the SANS Institute, and offers students in grades 9 through 12 free access to CyberStart, an immersive cybersecurity training game. Students play the game to learn more about cybersecurity and build skills that could prepare them for a career in technology.

“I commend Virginia’s latest cyber scholars,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Lisa Coons said. “Through the CyberStart America competition, these students have gotten a jumpstart on a career in technology and cybersecurity while being rewarded scholarships for their efforts.”

Last year and this year, the Commonwealth ranked in the top five nationally with 3,505 students and 189 schools registered for CyberStart America, and 383 students qualifying as semifinalists in the competition.

“This is a great opportunity for students to get hands-on experience learning about cybersecurity, which is a very nuanced and quickly-changing field,” Chief Information Security Officer of the Commonwealth Michael Watson said. “We are so pleased to see our young people show such an interest in these types of cyber educational programs. The future is bright for cybersecurity in the Commonwealth.”

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.