*This article was written by ILTexas student contributors
TUSKEGEE, ALABAMA- Two ILTexas Keller-Saginaw High School (KSHS) Junior ROTC cadets partook and represented their school in the Air Force and US Marine Corps JROTC 2022 Cyber Academy hosted at Tuskegee University and sponsored by the National Science Foundation to learn about the fundamentals of cyber security.
From June 12 to 25, 2022, Cadets Paula E. Fregene, a rising Senior, and Kiet A. Ma, a rising Junior, had the pleasure to attend the first in-person residential two weeks cyber security academy at Tuskegee University after two years of only being online.
Both cadets and the other 18 cadets got an all-expense paid-for trip by the National Science Foundation that was given to cadets of the Air Force and Marine Corps JROTC program to sponsor growth and interest in the field of cyber security. This academy gave cadets new experiences in the field and tools to fuel their journey in the cyber and job market by talking to experienced Military personnel that currently work within cyber security.
Furthermore, they experienced college life inside the residential dorms with roommates.
“Being able to attend this summer program was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me,” Fregene stated. “I was able to make connections with people I would have never thought I would meet, while all sharing the same interest in learning cyber security. Not only that, I gained more knowledge and experience for whenever I do live in a dorm at my future university.”
In addition, towards the end of the summer academy, the cadets from the summer program were given a final project to create and present a poster that summarizes one of the topics dealing with cyber security that they would like to present to their fellow JROTC unit from their schools.
Out of the posters presented, the instructors would nominate the top four best posters to bring with them. The four winners would receive a prize and enter the finalist poster competition to compete with the other universities' top three posters hosted by the National Science Foundation for summer 2022.
The three finalist winners would be given the chance to attend a Cyber Conference in St. Louis, Missouri to present their posters to professionals in the field of cyber security and those scouting out the new potential within students.
Cadet Fregene and Ma were nominated to represent Tuskegee University and the ILTexas District in the finalist competition to win the grand prize. Cadet Fregene won First Place, while Cadet Ma received Fourth Place.
“Not only were we given such opportunities, but we also gained the tools to create the first CyberPatriot program within the ILTexas District for our JROTC program,” Ma added.
CyberPatriot is a national organization and competition for JROTC cadets to compete in regional and national competitions of managing a team and network to detect flaws within different systems and identifying security holes within programs against other schools.
Nonetheless, the cadets are also given a free 300-dollar voucher to attempt to take a CompTIA certification exam that allows them to have official IT and industrial certifications when passed.
Along with all of these, they also received Raspberry Pi computer processors, Tuskegee University's school IDs for whenever they want to visit again in the future, and a total of three college credits for completing a semester course in the introductions of cyber security and networking within two weeks.
With all due thanks, this was made possible because of the SMI, Major Bauman, and MI, MSgt Lacey, of ILTexas KSHS MCJROTC as they facilitated the nominations and recommendations for the program.
“I’m so glad I decided to join JROTC to gain this golden opportunity before I officially graduate,” Fregene concluded. “Looking forward to seeing the many more accomplishments of the KSHS JROTC unit!”
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