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The University of West Florida Center for Cybersecurity has awarded 33 scholarships to undergraduate students in core programs that support Cybersecurity. Scholarship recipients will receive $4,500 over two years to support their progress toward degree completion.

Dr. Eman El-Sheikh, interim director of the Center for Cybersecurity and Associate Dean of the College of Science and Engineering, says the scholarships recruit new students in areas of strategic emphasis — including Computer Science, Computer Engineering, Information Technology, Management Information Systems and the newly-launched Computer Science specialization in Cybersecurity – and help current students graduate. They also encourage degree pathways for students from neighboring state colleges who transfer to UWF.

“Cybersecurity is critical to our nation’s future, and the demand for qualified cybersecurity professionals continues to grow both regionally and nationally,” El-Sheikh said. “By attracting qualified and diverse students and engaging them in our academic programs and research opportunities with faculty, we aim to increase the number of qualified cybersecurity professionals ready to enter the workforce and prepare the next generation of cybersecurity leaders.”

2015 recipient Cody Mahaffey transferred to UWF from PSC this fall to major in Cybersecurity. His funds will ease his financial burden so he can stay focused on his studies – even taking summer classes to speed his graduation date. “The highlight is that with the combination of all my grants and scholarships I was awarded, it will make me one of the few college students that will graduate with zero student loan debts,” Mahaffey stated.

Computer Science major Joshua Friloux received the award beginning in Fall 2014. He is one of two students to represent his department in the College of Science and Engineering’s Scholars Student Advisory Board. “This advisory board acts as a voice for STEM students from various departments by representing the needs of fellow students to faculty in a manner that is productive,” Friloux said. “The group also hosts meetings where students can get information on internships and post-graduation jobs.”

Friloux’s scholarship and degree program have prepared him for the opportunity to pursue his own internship with Pensacola-based Avalex Technologies, helping improve his programming skills in ways that are not taught strictly in the classroom.

Susan Schneider, IT Networking and Telecommunications major, received a 2015 award, enabling her to focus on her studies full-time. Of women in technology, she said: “Without the inclusion of all of our problem-solving skills, it is as though only part of the equation can be solved. No solution will ever be as good as it could be without a diverse combination of brain power working together as one team. Diversity benefits us all.”

38 scholarships were awarded in 2014, for a total of 71 scholarships over the past two years. These awards were made possible through funds received from the State of Florida IT Performance Funding Program in 2013.

To learn more about these scholarships and the UWF Center for Cybersecurity, visit uwf.edu/cybersecurity.

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