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GenCyber Camp Brings Technology to Underserved Groups
Carrie Raleigh didn’t know the first thing about cybersecurity when she started working for the Girl Scouts of San Gorgonio Council. And, who could blame her? It’s a far cry from the things traditionally associated with the scouting program.
Over the past three years, Raleigh and colleague Knea Hawley brought the GenCyber program under the Girl Scouts umbrella and opened the doors for even more young women to learn about cybersecurity.
“I’ve learned so much and it’s been an amazing journey. Now it’s one of those things I talk about all the time,” Raleigh said. “It’s been so eye opening to me realizing the potential in the field for these girls. We can connect them with the training they need for this large opportunity in front of them.”
GenCyber is a nationwide program with camps in nearly all 50 states. The San Bernardino camps were held June 18-22 at CSU San Bernardino. The program was funded by a National Science Foundation grant received by CSUSB that made it free to all attendees. CSUSB has invited the Girl Scouts of San Gorgonio Council to participate in their GenCyber camp since 2015.
Beyond learning the basics of cybersecurity, girls had the opportunity to meet with industry professionals from Google, Facebook and Bank of America just to name a few. While it took a lot of coordination from the GenCyber planning team, Raleigh said it was worth it for the students and the employers.
Liz Fraumann found her way into an IT focus more than a decade ago and hasn’t looked back since. Along the way, she’s helped make cyber security a priority in San Diego and fostered a love of the field in countless students thanks to programs like the SoCal Cyber Cup Challenge and SOeC Cyber Boot Camp.
Fraumann is the executive director of the Securing Our eCity Foundation, an organization that was formally incorporated in 2011 to increase cyber security awareness, education, and prepredness in the San Diego region by focusing on the human element in education and outreach. Prior to this time the program was an initiative fostered by ESET North America.
William Diaz loves computers as much as anyone else in the cybersecurity community, but he also understands the physical and mental benefits of getting up from behind the screen.
He is combining his passion for IT with his passion for health and wellness through his work with A World Fit for Kids, a Los-Angeles-based non-profit that’s provided after-school programming to underserved communities since 1993.
Diaz learned about the relationship between health and technology the hard way as he became involved in CyberPatriot and changed his college major from English to IT.
“The more Red Bull I drank, the less physical exercise I got,” Diaz said. “It really dawned on me: what is the point of getting all these skills if I’m going to be 35 with a chronic disease?”
That premise now serves as Diaz’s guiding principle at A World Fit for Kids, where he serves as the IT manager. He tries to incorporate healthy habits into all of his CyberPatriot coaching and make students aware that the actions they take today can have implications for the rest of their lives.
“Health and cyber don’t mix and they should because health has become such a big force in our world from the opioid epidemic to the suicide crisis,” Diaz said. “I’m making students aware of the implications of their technology use.”
Some of the healthy habits Diaz emphasizes include drinking water instead of soda or other sugary beverages and taking time to get up and move for a few minutes during each hour of a CyberPatriot competition.
Achieving those goals is sometimes easier said than done, especially in the pressure of a competition setting. However, he sees the work as an essential part of building good habits now that will stick with students once they enter the cybersecurity field.
“The more I see cyber taking off, the more I see health deteriorating,” he said. “If students don’t have role models for healthy behavior, they are never going to learn it.”
From the moment Irvin Lemus got his first computer, he was hooked. It was an Apple 2E, and he told his dad that he wanted to know exactly what was inside of it.
Now, Lemus works to instill that same passion for technology into the students he teaches and coaches throughout the Bay Area. Lemus is the cybersecurity instructor at Cabrillo College and the Bay Area Cyber Competitions Regional Coordinator for the Western Academy Support and Training Center.
Lemus said he was drawn to cybersecurity because no two days are ever the same and it provides him the opportunity to continue to learn in an ever-changing environment.
“You have to always learn new ways of securing everything. Working in this field put my knowledge and critical thinking skills to the extreme,” Lemus said.
“I’ve seen the high school boys shake their heads at the girls to indicate that they should not attend cybersecurity events for girls.”
Tobi West has seen this harsh reality firsthand, and it’s what drives her to work tirelessly at putting together programs and activities that will help young women become engaged in cybersecurity as a career pathway.
Over the course of her own career, West has gone from scanning papers to Department Chair of Computer Information Systems at Coastline Community College and an adjunct instructor at Cal Poly Pomona. Her unusual journey to cybersecurity serves as an inspiration to her students.