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Monday, October 16, 2017

Highlands Students Learn to Combat Cyberspace Threats

Highlands Principal Jeff Schneider introduces NaviGo Scholars (left to right) Hunter Kolb, Chapin Johnson and Cory Gish. (not pictured: Timmy Sieverding)
The Equifax breach is one of the more publicized attacks that has happened along the information highway recently. More and more companies are discovering they need cyber security professionals trained in detecting and defending their data.

At its October meeting, members of the Fort Thomas School Board met a team of Highlands High School students about to embark on a quest to learn more about the field and the skills they will need to combat cyber threats in the future.

Enter the Good Guys

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"Cyber security jobs weren’t around 20 years ago," said School Board Member Karen Allen. "A war room now has to be had in every major company so they aren’t attacked…What a great field to be interested in and what a growing field, and it’s great to be on the side of the good guys."

Chapin Johnson, Hunter Kolb, Cory Gish and Timmy Sieverding are participants in NaviGo Scholars, an internship program designed to pair students with companies to learn about careers directly from working professionals. Through the program, students can explore careers in depth, and companies can meet talented young people who may one day become employees.

NaviGo is a college and career preparation service providing coaching, test preparation and planning for careers. The scholars program, developed by the company’s president, educator Tim Hanner, works with the Kentucky Education Council to pair high school juniors and seniors in the region with companies including Duke Energy, St. Elizabeth Hospital and U.S. Bank.

The Highlands students will work with the U.S. Bank Cyber Security Team. The bank requested Highlands students for the second year in a row because the program has been such a successful match.

Hands-on learning in the real world

"We will go through almost every part of a cyber security team, analyst, captain, architect..." explained Kolb. "We are going figure out what we like best and how we can apply it to our future jobs. And if we keep in contact, we can hope to get other internships with US Bank or with other big corporations."

Students meet twice a month throughout the school year, once with the team at U.S. Bank to get first-hand knowledge and a second time with a career coach to explore college and career opportunities.

Johnson said the hands-on experience is what most excites him. "We work with real people in the real world. We have a representative who is on the US Bank cyber security team. He’s really personable and he knows a lot. We are making connections."

This is Gish’s second year in the program. He said he was on the path for an electrical engineering degree but the experience opened a new door to see the potential of a cyber security career.

"Last year was an amazing experience… We got to tour their whole place. They have a war room where they can see threats coming in. We discussed what security team members do in their daily routine. So many jobs to choose from, detecting, responding, putting up a defense program," he said.

Ready to compete

Highlands High School Interim Principal Jeff Schneider said the students on the NaviGo Scholars team also prepare to compete with students across the state and nationally in cyber security competitions. This is the fourth year of the program, he said, and students are excited about the possibilities.

Board Chair Brad Fennel congratulated the students. "You are there for a reason. [U.S. Bank] is interested in what you have to say, your skills. They will get some great information from your generation — what is going on and what to look for in the future."

Careers in cyber security start upwards of $80,000 a year, and the median pay in 2016 was $92,000, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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