U.S. Cyber FastTrack Finalist!

CATHY SOWA, an information security associate at Valdosta State University, recently participated in the 2019 U.S. Cyber FastTrack competition and is among the 100 finalists who were awarded a $22,000 scholarship to attend the SANS Technology Institute’s undergraduate certificate program in Applied Cybersecurity.

Inaugurated earlier this year as part of the Governors Cyber Skills Program, in which Georgia is one of 28 participating states, Cyber FastTrack provides interested college students free online cybersecurity training that is designed to launch their careers in the cybersecurity field. Through a three-stage progressive approach, participants of the highly-competitive scholarship program had to solve over 250 cybersecurity challenges. Sowa, among the other finalists who represented 63 colleges across the nation, outperformed more than 13,000 students.

The duly-earned scholarship award allows Sowa the opportunity to complete three advanced immersion courses in the SANS Applied Cybersecurity program, a Middle-States accredited college certificate program. She will also be able to obtain the professional GIAC (Global Information Assurance Certification) associated with each course. GIAC certifications are branded as the ‘highest and most rigorous assurance of cyber security knowledge and skill available to industry, government, and military clients.’

Cybersecurity is a fast-growing field where the demand for skilled workers surpasses the current supply. 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. – Alan Paller, President of SANS Technology Institution

Based on the success of these recipients, Paller plans to make the Cyber FastTrack program available to all students in every 4-year and community college in the United States with the goal of closing the nation’s cybersecurity skills gap within the next 48 months. – Source: SANS press article

Registration for the next Cyber FastTrack competition opens March 2020.

Sowa currently holds certifications from CompTIA in networking (Network+) and cybersecurity (Security+) and from Cisco in cyber operations (CyOps). In August 2019, she earned the EC-Council’s Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) certification, which assesses skill sets in penetration testing and defense of networks, computers, and web applications. Sowa is also completing a master’s degree in Information Technology with a concentration in Cybersecurity at Middle Georgia State University.

Both the online graduate program at Middle Georgia State and the SANS Technology Institute certificate program mesh perfectly with my role at Valdosta State, where the Information Security team focuses on building relationships with our strategic partners in the campus community to protect our technology systems. At the completion of these programs, I hope to mentor future cybersecurity professionals and perhaps become a cybersecurity course instructor. – Cathy Sowa 

VSU Division of Information Technology strives to provide services and technologies that allow our employees and students to work and learn in a more secure and engaging environment. As an integral member of the Division’s Information Security team, Sowa uses her advanced knowledge to help protect the University’s digital information in the face of an ever-changing risk environment.

To learn more about VSU Information Security, please visit our site at www.valdosta.edu/security

To read SANS press article: 100 U.S. National Cyber FastTrack Winners Announced Today, Each Winner Receives $22,000 Scholarships to Launch Their Cybersecurity Careers, visit https://www.sans.org/press/announcement/2019/10/03/1