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Illinois Students Advance to National Finals in Cybersecurity Challenge

Testament to State’s Commitment to Advancing STEAM Programs

Springfield, IL – Girls across Illinois, despite the transition to remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, have persevered in their cybersecurity learning through the Girls Go CyberStart (GGCS) program. Out of the 385 girls from Illinois that started GGCS, 45 will be representing Illinois for the National Championship which will be held May 20-21. Nationally, 15,665 girls registered to compete in the initial stage of the competition.

As announced on November 14, 2019, this was the first year Illinois participated in the national challenge formed to encourage the growth of young women in the field of cybersecurity. The training partnership with the SANS Institute enables female high school students in Illinois to discover their talents in cybersecurity and learn more about computer security careers.

“Illinois is committed to advancing STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) in Illinois and the Girls Go CyberStart program aligned with our outreach initiatives,” commented State of Illinois CIO Ron Guerrier. “Not only did Illinois students participate in GGCS during this challenging time of remote learning, but many students advanced to the finals, which is a testament to the STEAM talent in our own backyard here in Illinois.”

“Encouraging Illinois students to explore STEAM and providing resources for educators is a key priority for Illinois state agencies,” stated Mary Reynolds, Group CIO for Education at the Illinois Department of Innovation & Technology (DoIT). “We have worked closely with our partners at Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), Learning Technology Center of Illinois, and Illinois Digital Educators Alliance (IDEA) to promote GGCS to Illinois students and schools and we are pleased to see the interest and talent that emerged.”

Nationally, 279 teams and 268 individuals will be vying for recognition along with cash prizes. Illinois has several schools in the Teams National Championship and over 20 girls playing in the Individual National Championship event. A list of school finalists were announced earlier this month. Winners will be announced during the last week of May and more information on the program can be found at Girls Go CyberStart.

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