MGA Graduate Student Among Finalists In U.S. Cyber FastTrack Competition

Author: News Bureau
Posted: Monday, September 30, 2019 12:00 AM
Categories: Students | Honors/Awards | School of Computing | Pressroom

Macon, GA


Cathy Sowa, a Middle Georgia State University student pursuing a master's degree in Information Technology, is among the 100 finalists in the U.S. Cyber FastTrack competition who has been awarded a $22,000 scholarship to attend the SANS Technology Institute as part of an accredited college program called Applied Cybersecurity.

Sowa works at Valdosta State University as an information security associate. She chose MGA's fully online master's degree in IT for the Cybersecurity concentration.

"The coursework offered in this degree program meshed perfectly with my role at Valdosta State, where the information security team focuses on building relationships with our strategic partners to protect technology systems within our campus and local communities," Sowa said. "At the completion of the degree, I hope to mentor future cybersecurity professionals as a colleague and strive to become a cybersecurity course instructor."

U.S. Cyber FastTrack is an innovative nationwide competition that provides high-aptitude students with the practical cybersecurity training that employers demand. In the six months since the 2019 competition began in April, the finalists outperformed more than 13,000 other candidates. Across the nation, program finalists represent 63 colleges in 28 states.

MGA undergraduates Victor Fordham and Jason Ellingson each won a $500 scholarship as part of the competition.

“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.”

The scholarship recipients are expected to complete three advanced immersion courses in the SANS Applied Cybersecurity program, which is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Students must also earn the professional GIAC certifications associated with each course, which employers recognize as validation of their skill set. 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.