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Two juniors and one senior earn cybersecurity scholarships

August 19, 2019

Three University of North Georgia (UNG) students will have their education paid for plus an internship and a guaranteed job upon graduation thanks to the Department of Defense (DOD) Cyber Scholarship (CySP) program.

Two UNG juniors and one senior received the DOD-funded scholarships. More than 400 students applied and 96 were awarded scholarships, averaging 1.4 scholars per school.

"UNG received three, which speaks highly of our program," said Dr. Bryson Payne, professor of computer science in the Mike Cottrell College of Business and director of the Center for Cyber Operations Education at UNG.

One student said while he felt his chances were good, he was shocked that he received it.

"I had my hopes up since December and crossed my fingers that I would be picked, but for it to actually happen meant so much," he said. "I was one of two people at UNG selected as a first-time recipient, so being chosen just means all the more to me."

Because of the National Security Agency's (NSA) security requirements, the recipients' names are not released. Payne was allowed to release general facts about the scholars. They are:

  • A junior pursuing a cybersecurity degree with a minor in business administration.
  • A junior pursuing a computer science degree with a minor in cybersecurity.
  • A senior pursuing a computer science degree with a minor in cybersecurity.

"The two juniors are new scholars and one of them is our first Latina recipient," Payne said. "One returning senior received the scholarship last year, which was renewed for this year."

Payne credits the successes to the accolades earned by UNG's cybersecurity program and its students' accomplishments. Recognized by the NSA and Department of Homeland Security, UNG is a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense and one of only 53 programs in the country to receive the DOD CySP grant.

"Our students have shown that they are national competitors," he said. "They placed third in the country in NSA Codebreaker Challenge in January 2019."

Students in UNG's cybersecurity program also produce undergraduate research projects, which other school's cybersecurity programs do not.

"This year, the faculty worked one-on-one with the students to present at conferences. It was part of the scholarship program," Payne said. "I think these set our students apart from their peers nationally."

Scholarship recipients receive funding for one year, which includes tuition, fees and books. They also receive a laptop and living expenses stipend totaling $12,500 each semester.

"Across UNG many students work full time or part time to pay for their education," Payne said. "This scholarship allows them to focus on improving their knowledge and skills in cybersecurity."

The junior recipient said the scholarship allowed him to add another semester to his career and focus on his to focus on his grades and leadership certification.

Upon graduation, the students work for the DOD for a year.

"I've always wanted to work in IT and cybersecurity and knowing that I'll get to actually have my dream job and career means so much," the student said. "I am certain that working at the DoD will be very constructive, fruitful, and exciting for my career."

  • Department of Defense cyber scholarship eligibility requirements

  • Be at least 18 years old.
  • U.S. citizen.
  • Enrolled with a declared major, minor, or concentration in a cyber-related degree program.
  • Completed at least 60 credit hours before the fall semester.
  • Have a minimum 3.2 GPA.
  • Obtain a security clearance with background investigation required.
  • Agree to work for the DOD as a civilian employee for one calendar year.
  • Applications accepted in January 2020 at to apply.

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