Third Maryland Mentor-Protégé Session Was All About a Passion for Cyber Security!

By Anika Lalmansingh.

What is Passion?

Passion: noun ˈpa-shən: a strong liking or desire toward an activity, object, or concept (Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 2012).

From left to right. CyberGirls Chloe, Samantha, Clara, Mayo, Sophia, and Janai
From left to right. CyberGirls Chloe, Samantha, Clara, Mayo, Sophia, and Janai

The third Mentor-Protégé session in Maryland took place on Tuesday, January 13 and was all about a passion for one’s career. The discussion was kicked off with an inspiring video about Tara Anderson and her foster dog Derby who was born with deformed legs. As product developer with 3D Systems Tara was able to put together a team that used 3D technologies to design and create prosthetic legs for Derby; who can now run and play like other dogs.

Protégé playing a game with Clara, in which binary codes are used to determine a person’s birthday
Protégé playing a game with Clara, in which binary codes are used to determine a person’s birthday

For many people who pursue a career in one of the STEAM fields, they have found that they can successfully pair their passions with their skills and have the added satisfaction of knowing that they are also contributing to the benefit of our society. This includes:

  • Eleven-year-old Kylie who has invented a backpack for children with cancer who are receiving IV treatments or infusions.
  • Grace Choi who has created the prototype of a 3D printer that will allow anyone to print their own makeup from any home computer.

A Passion for Cyber Security

CyberPatriots is the premier national competition for high school students interested in and passionate about cyber security and defense.  Created by the Air Force Association (AFA), it was designed to excite, educate, and motivate the next generation of cyber defenders who are so critical to the security of this nation. CyberPatriots has a tournament-style structure with a series of web-based competition rounds in which students are challenged with cyber security scenarios that must be resolved within a certain amount of time.  The competition culminates in the National Finals Competition in Washington, D.C. every March.

Mrs. Kolmus teaching an “honorary” MD protégé about binary codes
Mrs. Kolmus teaching an “honorary” MD protégé about binary codes

When Phyllis Kolmus, Deputy Group Director with AT&T and WIT Past President, learned about the CyberPatriots program she noticed that there were no girl teams entering the competition.  With a passion for encouraging girls to pursue careers in math and computer science, Mrs. Kolmus recruited Dr. Jan Plane, Director of UMD Center for Women in Computing and Deputy Director of ACES Undergraduate CyberSecurity Program, to sponsor all-girl teams (in partnership with the Unveristy of MD) at local area high schools.

From left to right. Phyllis Kolmus and Dr. Jan Plane, GIT CyberGirls Co-Chairs
From left to right. Phyllis Kolmus and Dr. Jan Plane, GIT CyberGirls Co-Chairs

GIT CyberGirls Following Their Passion.

The panelists for the evening were six young ladies who are members of the two GIT CyberPatriot teams. These CyberGirls included Janai, Sophia, and Mayo from Elizabeth Seton High School (Bladensburg, MD) and Clara, Samantha, and Chloe from Eleanor Roosevelt High School (Greenbelt, MD).  Sharing their interests in and experiences with the program, the theme that permeated through all of their comments was that even if they do not pursue careers in cyber security, they have gained invaluable skills in leadership, team work, and working with computers that will help them succeed in the future.

Sophia teaching the protégés about binary codes
Sophia teaching the protégés about binary codes

A passion for STEAM!  A passion for LIFE!

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