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Three Columbia High Cadets Selected for AFJROTC Cyber Academy

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Three Columbia High School (CHS) Air Force JROTC (AFJROTC) cadets have been selected for the summer Cyber Academy sponsored by the National Science Foundation. CHS junior J’lyn Bell and sophomores Serenity Perry and Micaiah Young were among the 132 chosen nationally and nine statewide.

The scholarship funds one college course administered virtually and may provide cadets an opportunity to test for cyber or information technology (IT) industry certifications. The length of the summer study depends on the university the cadet chooses. Perry and Young have chosen the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, while Bell is waiting for an assignment since she has no preference listed. The value of the scholarship the cadets received is estimated at $8,000.

“The Cyber Academy provides so many good things for our cadets, even if it’s in a virtual environment,” said Major (Ret.) Ray C. Hammond, Jr., senior aerospace science instructor at CHS. “They are exposed to a college environment and professors.”

The cadets participated in a competitive, multi-phased boarding process, which included a cyber/IT exam, an evaluation of relevant experience, an instructor endorsement, a physical fitness test and measure of extracurricular activities.

“I'm super proud that Columbia High School acquired three of the nine total [students selected] in South Carolina. I guess we're doing something right,” Major Hammond said.

The three students join Cadet Jiquais Jackson, a CHS junior who was one of approximately 100 cadets across the nation selected for the Cyber Academy last summer, the second year of its existence. At the culmination of the six-week course, Jackson received four college credit hours from Vermont’s Norwich University and earned a testing voucher for an industry information technology (IT) certification.

The National Science Foundation sponsored the pilot in 2020, and it has informed the advancement of a scalable model for computer science and cybersecurity education that eventually will be deployed across the nation’s JROTC programs. CHS was among the initial cohort of 30 schools representing 16 states. The school’s AFJROTC initiative has received capacity-building guidance and professional development for instructors, in addition to internship, mentoring and scholarship opportunities for the students.