- Swansboro HS
Swansboro Students Excel in Girls Go CyberStart Program
For nearly 30 female students at Swansboro High School, a recent challenge that tested their skills in coding, computer programming and other information technology skills was more than just a game.
For junior Cheyanne Blair, participation in the Girls Go CyberStart competition reinforced her interest in the field.
“It is definitely something that I’m interested in and an option I’m considering,” she said.
She enjoys the critical thinking and problem solving involved in tasks like coding and programming and seeing the results to come from it.
Blair also encourages other female students to get involved in what has traditionally been a male-dominated field.
“I definitely support more females getting involved,” Blair added. “It is such an interesting and expansive field with so many opportunities.”
Blair is one of 28 Swansboro High School students who participated in Girls Go CyberStart, a game that introduces and teaches foundational topics in cybersecurity
Gov. Roy Cooper was one of sixteen governors to sponsor the pilot program to increase interest in and awareness of the field and LaTanya Pattillo, Teacher Advisor to Cooper, visited the high school Monday to recognize the students who participated.
The competition was held online from Feb. 20-25 with 6,600 female students from 1,007 high schools in the 16 states participating. Swansboro High School had the second highest rate of participation in North Carolina.
Junior Xyrelle House said she already wants to go into the cybersecurity field and participation in Girls Go CyberStart helped expand her knowledge of the options available.
“It is something I want to pursue and this program gives you a lot of knowledge for the future,” House said.
And while it was a competition and points were earned as they advanced through various levels, House said she liked the teamwork that was involved.
Swansboro High School Digital Learning and Teaching Facilitator Erin Holland said there was a lot of collaboration among the students as they tackled challenges in coding, computer programming and cyber forensics.
And while students like Blair and House already had experience in such tasks as students under Frank Jones, who teaches Scientific Visualization and Game Art & Design, it wasn’t a requirement.
“That was one of our goals, to introduce cybersecurity and coding and to generate interest so that they may enroll in classes next year,” Holland said.
Girls Go CyberStart was initiated by the SANS Institute following the launch of their CyberStart program but found that only five percent of the students who participated in the first round of the program were female. SANS Institute then launched Girls Go CyberStart specifically to attract young women to the field of cybersecurity.
Holland said the students’ participation in the program provided multiple benefits.
“For our students at Swansboro High School, participating in Girls Go CyberStart was a great opportunity to work together to complete challenges and games that not only introduced them to information technology, computer programming, and cybersecurity, but also provided them with an environment in which to learn and apply real-world job skills,” she said.
Reporter Jannette Pippin can be reached at 910-382-2557 or Jannette.Pippin@jdnews.com.