11/20/2017 Release from the Commonwealth of Virginia Office of Governor Terry McAuliffe:

RICHMOND– Governor Terry McAuliffe today announced that Virginia students have been awarded a total of $140,000 in cyber security scholarships as a result of their participation in the SANS Institute CyberStart online cyber security skills aptitude pilot program.

In July 2017, Virginia, along with six other states, joined together to partner with the SANS Institute and offer students the opportunity to test their cyber aptitude and promote cybersecurity as an exciting career option. No Information Technology (IT) or cyber security knowledge was required to participate. Virginia had 1,980 students register to participate with 843 (43 percent) qualifying for the CyberStart Game. At the end of the program, 145 Virginia students had reached the elite levels with 10 finishing in the overall “Top 20” nationally. Sixty-two students won scholarships for more advanced education in cybersecurity.

“I am very proud of the Virginia students who took advantage of this exciting opportunity to learn more about cyber security,” said Governor McAuliffe. “Growing Virginia’s cyber workforce is imperative to maintaining our position as a global leader in cyber security. CyberStart was a perfect way to allow more students to try their hand at cyber security and have the potential to earn scholarship dollars in the process. This is a win-win for both the students and the commonwealth.”

“Virginia was fortunate to have the opportunity to partner with the SANS Institute to bring this cyber security training program to our students,” said Secretary of Technology Karen Jackson. “Collaborations like this are key to combatting the growing cyber security challenge and these students are now well on their way to being part of the long-term cyber workforce solution."

“Partnerships with organizations like the SANS Institute are allowing us to expose students to fulfilling and lucrative career options, and to help them obtain the higher education credentials they need to thrive in the new Virginia economy,” said Secretary of Education Dietra Trent. “The scholarships will allow students and, ultimately, employers to tap into the natural talents already abundant in the commonwealth’s classrooms.”

“Virginia uncovered remarkable cybersecurity talent from all over the state - both urban and rural. Two of the top three scorers nationally were Virginia students,” said Alan Paller, director of research at SANS.

CyberStart participants had fun, learned a lot, and discovered often previously-hidden talent and fascination with cybersecurity. Here’s how three of them described the experience in notes they sent to Governor McAuliffe:

“Thank you for sponsoring this program. It has not only given me a glimpse of what I may face out in the field and increased my desire to learn more, but has offered hope for those that never considered cybersecurity to now pursue it as a profession. I just hope that you will continue sponsoring future programs such as this one.” – Jordan Quinn, Old Dominion University, College DRHS

“This was amazing. Even as a fifth-year computer science student I was learning new things. I especially liked how it encouraged you to do the research necessary to solve the problems: it didn’t just teach you how to do everything.” – Jordan Newton, George Mason University, college senior

“It’s the most fun I have had learning.” – Adam Wilson, Patrick Henry Community College, college freshman

Scholarship recipients represented institutions from across the commonwealth including:

  • BASIS Independent McLean
  • Charlottesville High School
  • College of William and Mary
  • Forest Park High School
  • George Mason University
  • John Tyler Community College
  • Lake Braddock Secondary School
  • Luray High School
  • Millbrook High School
  • New River Community College
  • Northern Virginia Community College
  • Old Dominion University
  • Riverside High School
  • Rock Ridge High School
  • Smithfield High School
  • Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology
  • Thomas Nelson Community College
  • Tidewater Community College
  • University of Richmond
  • University of Virginia
  • Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Virginia Western Community College
  • Virginia Tech
  • Woodgrove High School

Find more information on cyber training and careers here.