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Six Students Inducted into Cyber LeADERS Program

By Jonah Grinkewitz

Old Dominion University's School of Cybersecurity inducted six students into its Cyber LeADERS Scholars Program on Sept. 2 and recognized seven students from its 2021 inaugural cohort.

Students were presented with a certificate and a commemorative pen bearing their names. The 2021 cohort members also received medals.

Cyber LeADERS is a partnership among ODU, Tidewater Community College and Virginia Peninsula Community College created in 2021 through funding from the National Science Foundation's CyberCorps Scholarship for Service initiative.

"We look for people we know are going to succeed and who are committed to public service," said Brian Payne, Ph.D., vice provost for academic affairs.

The scholarship program provides two to three years of support to selected students from the three institutions. This includes a full in-state tuition scholarship, an annual stipend ranging from $25,000 (for undergraduates) to $34,000 (for graduate students) and a professional development allowance.

In exchange, each student must work for the federal government in select cybersecurity positions for the same number of years. The project will ultimately prepare 24 scholarship students for careers with the federal government.

"Cyber LeADERS serves as a force for good in the world of cybersecurity, and with students like ours, our nation's federal cyber force will be in good hands," said Lanah Stafford, director of High Impact Learning Initiatives in the Office of Academic Success Initiatives and Support.

Jaidan Williams, a senior and member of the 2021 cohort, reflected on her time in the program.

"My goal in life is to have a direct impact in this world," she said. "The SFS program has allowed me to trailblaze and be a model for minorities and women."

Zobair Wali, also a senior and a member of the 2021 cohort, spoke about the importance of their mission.

"Today, we are embarking on a journey to serve this nation, to serve the people of this country," he said, "to be a firm leader of defense against adversaries, against anyone and whoever is trying to hurt this country."

The new 2022 cohort:

  • Jacob Slone - Tidewater Community College
  • Mmoleca Ehungwe - Virginia Peninsula Community College
  • Gregory Wilson - Old Dominion University
  • Hannah Bass - Old Dominion University
  • Nathaly Flores - Old Dominion University
  • William Matos Diaz - Old Dominion University

The 2021 cohort:

  • Zobair Wali - Old Dominion University
  • Ivan Santiago - Old Dominion University
  • James Read - Old Dominion University
  • Jaidan Williams - Old Dominion University
  • Drew Brown - Old Dominion University
  • Karen Ann Etulle - TCC transfer student
  • Jacen A. Davis - TNCC transfer student

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