Cybercrime is on the rise – it’s the fastest growing type of crime in the U.S, taking longer to fix and costing businesses and governments exponentially more. Twelve years ago, the Airforce Association created the National Youth Cyber Defense competition to inspire students toward careers in cybersecurity or other STEM disciplines critical to our nation’s future. Once again, Learn4Life students finished in the top five percent of the 4,500 teams competing nationwide.


The success of our students in the competition is especially rewarding, since most of the teens who come to the schools are low-income and lack internet access at home, and are minorities, teen parents, in foster care, homeless or dealing with other life challenges.


Two teams of five students advanced to the semi-finals, many of whom are still in the introductory network security course…like Layly S., who was chosen as the captain of her team. “She provided outstanding leadership and motivation and led a team of mostly introduction-level students to a near tie with our advanced team,” said her teacher Nicholas Carlson. “Layly is a fantastic kid, with massive leadership potential. It’s great to see girls interested and doing well in STEM.”


Another standout, according to Carlson, is intro-course student Ricky D. “He blew everyone away with some of the best image scores by any of our CyberPatriot teams,” he said. “The passion he showed during the competition was inspiring and he’s now applying for an IT internship program.”


Network security is a popular career pathway that introduces students to the fundamentals of computer networking, cyber security and applied cryptography. The IT classes at Learn4Life all are A-G approved by the UC system, and offer eight certifications for students to earn.


Cyber threat continues to threaten every sized business in every industry, and at every level of government. Unfortunately, there is a shortage of skilled network security specialists. Could former at-risk students and dropouts help fill that gap? We think so.

Written By:
Ann Abajian
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