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DSU announces 2020-2021 CyberCorps Scholars

August 17, 2020

CyberCorps Service logo
The scholarship for service program brings visibility to DSU's programs and aids with recruitment.

Eleven Dakota State University students have been named CyberCorps Scholars for 2020-2021.

A scholarship for service program, CyberCorps provides students with a full-ride scholarship, as well as a yearly stipend of $25,000 for undergraduate students ($34,000 for graduate students), and $6,000 in professional development funding, books, and supplies. In return, the students work for a federal, state, local, or tribal government in a cybersecurity role for a period equal to the length of the scholarship, said Dr. Michael Ham. He is an assistant professor of cyber operations in The Beacom College of Computer and Cyber Sciences, and director of DSU’s CyberCorps program.

Cybersecurity workforce shortages in all industries could be as high as 1.8 million by 2022, according to a Global Information Security Workforce Study. As the demand for highly qualified cybersecurity professionals increases, so does the competition among those hiring, Ham stated. CyberCorps was created under the Federal Cyber Service Training and Education Initiative to give agencies an advantage in recruiting and training cybersecurity professionals. In this way, they can better close the workforce shortage and compete with other high-paying private sector positions, he explained. There are 77 schools in the program nationwide. The successful program provides some remarkable opportunities for DSU students.

Since the program’s inception at DSU in 2011, CyberCorps has supported 102 students, including the incoming cohort.  Graduates now work with agencies including the National Security Agency (NSA), ARMY INSCOM, MITRE, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab (APL), Los Alamos National Lab, South Dakota Bureau of Information and Telecommunications (SD BIT), and others. This year, there will be a total of 28 DSU students in the program.

“Scholarship recipients are very high-achieving students who make outward contributions to their peer groups and the industry as a whole,” Ham said. “We expect the students in the cohort to have a strong academic performance in the classroom, but many also actively contribute to clubs, involve peers in their work, mentor younger students, and work on challenging security-related projects or competitions.”

“It’s great to see the energy and enthusiasm that they bring to their work,” Ham said, “and it speaks volumes about DSU’s student body as a whole.”

In fact, the CyberCorps program elevates all students studying in computer science and cyber science programs by providing healthy competition that encourages them to perform at higher levels, he said.

The scholarship for service program also brings visibility to DSU’s programs and aids with recruitment. “We frequently have prospective students reach out to learn about CyberCorps and how our degree programs might fit with their life plans,” Ham said.

The 2020-2021 CyberCorps cohort members who wish to be named include:

  • Keinen Bousquet, computer science major, Madison, S.D.
  • Shane Donahue, cyber operations major, San Diego, Calif.
  • Skylar Hagen, computer science major, Aberdeen, S.D.
  • Hope Johnson, computer science and mathematics double major, Wakonda, S.D.
  • Rayanne Liester, cyber operations major, Baltic, S.D.
  • Alexander Maxey, computer science and computer game design double major, Phoenix, Ariz.
  • Nicholas Medema, cyber operations major, Inwood, Iowa
  • Blake Nedved, computer science major, Spirit Lake, Iowa
  • Nick Offerman, network and security administration major, Atlanta, Mich.
  • Chase Opsahl, cyber operations major, Aberdeen, S.D.
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