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Chief Information Officer
Robert Osmond
Virginia Information Technologies Agency11751 Meadowville Lane
Chester, Virginia 23836-6315
(804) 416-6100TDD VOICE -TEL. NO. 711
For additional information contact:
Wed, 16 Oct 2019 10:47:28 EDT
For immediate release

Seven Virginia college students win Cyber FastTrack scholarships

VITA promoted participation, congratulates state winners
(Richmond) - 

Seven Virginia college students have been selected for a full scholarship ($22,000) to the Applied CyberSecurity certificate program accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and operated by the SANS Technology Institute (

“I am delighted seven state students received the scholarships. They are, indeed, exceptional students as only one in 100 who participated in the competition received a scholarship,” said Chief Information Security Officer of the Commonwealth Mike Watson, at the Virginia Information Technologies Agency (VITA). Watson and VITA work with SANS to protect the data entrusted to state executive branch agencies, and promoted the Cyber FastTrack competition.

Watson said the cybersecurity field in the public and private sectors is in dire need of trained and knowledgeable staff to protect the data contained in information technology. “This program,” he said, “helps prepare young adults at the beginning of their careers to help fill that need.”

The seven winners from Virginia schools include:

  • Hung Nguyen, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
  • Loveona Jones, George Mason University
  • Stefan Soto, George Mason University
  • Stuart Bailey, Liberty University
  • Tran Nguyen, George Mason University
  • Vu Nguyen, George Mason University
  • Zachary Heidel, University of Virginia

Through the Applied Cybersecurity (ACS) program, students complete immersion training in key areas of cybersecurity and pass challenging certification exams as they gain the knowledge, tools and techniques needed to launch a career in cybersecurity. At the end of each course, they’ll earn certifications that identify their skill sets.

During the program and especially upon completion, cyber workforce-ready students will be introduced to select employers for internships and employment opportunities.

The Cyber FastTrack awarded scholarships to 100 exceptional students representing 63 different schools across 28 different states. More than 13,000 students started Cyber FastTrack this cycle. Over the course of several months, competitors were whittled down to 2,579 quarter-finalists, then 541 semi-finalists until finally arriving at the elite 100 Cyber FastTrack winners. During this journey they demonstrated their cyber skills on over 250 very realistic cybersecurity challenges.

Cyber FastTrack reports these students, in particular, embody the cybersecurity workforce pipeline of the future. Cyber FastTrack anticipates they will be the vanguard of a program that will ultimately grow to tens of thousands of students and prove that the cybersecurity job crisis can be solved. State and local cybersecurity programs will ultimately benefit as the program makes far larger numbers of highly qualified job seekers available to government agencies. 


About the Virginia Information Technologies Agency (VITA)
VITA is the commonwealth's consolidated technology services and solutions provider responsible for the operation of the state's technology infrastructure, governance, security and oversight of major IT projects, and procurement of technology-related goods and services on behalf of state and local governments.


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