Four Texas Students Awarded $22,000 Scholarships in the U.S. Cyber FastTrack Competition

Oct 10 2019

AUSTIN – Congratulations to four Texas university students who were among 100 finalists each awarded $22,000 scholarships to attend the SANS Technology Institute as part of an accredited college program called Applied Cybersecurity.

Texas is one of twenty-eight states that participate in the U.S Cyber FastTrack Competition through a partnership between the Texas Department of Information Resources and the SANS Technology Institute.

The four winners from the Texas schools are:

Christopher Blackwell     Lamar University

Cody Williams                 Texas A & M University-College Station

Jacob Roquemore           University of North Texas

Jonathon Wright             University of North Texas

The U.S. Cyber FastTrack program is a nationwide competition that provides high-aptitude students with the practical cybersecurity training that employers demand.  In the six months of the 2019 competition, the 100 finalists outperformed more than 13,000 other participants.

"Cybersecurity is a fast-growing field where the demand for skilled workers surpasses the current supply," said Alan Paller, president of the SANS Technology Institute, which sponsors the competition. "These winners will set a new, high bar for candidates for entry-level positions and demonstrate to employers that Cyber FastTrack graduates are the among the best prepared and most effective new cybersecurity employees they have ever hired."

"One goal of the Texas Cybersecurity Strategic Plan focuses on the need for talented cybersecurity professionals to continue to combat the increasing sophistication of cybersecurity threats facing Texas," said Texas Department of Information Resources Chief Information Security Officer Nancy Rainosek. "Competitions like Cyber FastTrack assist by encouraging the college students of Texas to develop deeper skills in cybersecurity, enhancing their future careers in the computer and cybersecurity industries. We are delighted at the opportunity to partner with the SANS Institute on this initiative."

The scholarship recipients are expected to complete three advanced immersion courses in the SANS Applied Cybersecurity Program and earn the professional certifications associated with each course.  Upon completion of the program, students will be introduced to select cyber employers for internships and employment.

Most finalists in the 2019 competition are in their third and fourth years of an undergraduate degree program or pursuing graduate degrees. Students come from a variety of backgrounds and experience levels and range in age from 18 to 63. A quarter of the finalists are women and one-eighth are minorities.

Paller said SANS aims to make the Cyber FastTrack competition available to all students in four-year and community colleges in the United States.  "If these finalists are as successful as we expect them to be," he said, "we will be on our way towards our goal to close the nation's cybersecurity skills gap in the next 48 months." 

Registration for the next Cyber FastTrack competition opens in March 2020.

For more information, visit the SANS website at https://www.sans.org.

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