Mississippi to participate in CyberStart America program

Mississippi students will soon have the opportunity to take part in a national cybersecurity initiative. 

Beginning at the end of February 2021, high school students will be able to register for the CyberStart America program — an online cybersecurity talent search and competition. The program allows high school students to complete online challenges acting as a cyber protection agent while learning code-breaking, programming, networking, and digital forensics skills. Participants in the program can win prizes, recognition for their schools, and scholarships for themselves.

Governor Tate Reeves announced Mississippi’s participation in the program on Tuesday. 

“The CyberStart America Program is an excellent and fun opportunity for students who think they may be interested in cybersecurity to determine if they have the passion and aptitude to pursue it as a career,” Governor Reeves said. “Mississippi high schools have competed and placed well in this competition the last several years and I cannot wait to see our students go even further.”

Participating students and their teachers do not need knowledge or experience in information technology or cybersecurity to take part. Everything they need can be learned in the game. The program is free for schools and students, and all Mississippi students in grades 9-12 are invited to participate.

The National Cyber Scholarship Foundation anticipates awarding scholarships worth a total of $2 million for use at any accredited college to 600 high-scoring students across the nation who participate in the competition in 2021.

In a pilot test of CyberStart America last school year, targeted to young women, 146 students from Mississippi high schools participated and seven succeeded in reaching the national finals.  With CyberStart America now open to boys, as well as girls, Mississippi hopes to triple the number of students participating and reaching the scholarship round.

“This program supports computer science education and its growing importance in our schools and our economy,” State Superintendent Dr. Carey Wright said. “I encourage all Mississippi high schools to share the CyberStart America opportunity with their students and to support their participation. There is no limit to what students can achieve when they are provided with challenging opportunities that give them the chance to excel.”

Complete details may be found at www.cyberstartamerica.org.