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Gautier student earns computer science scholarship in national competition

Updated: May. 26, 2021 at 7:54 PM CDT
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GAUTIER, Miss. (WLOX) - As the need for cybersecurity grows for both consumers and companies, some high school students are learning the skills needed for this important job. WLOX News caught up with a Gautier High School junior who just received the distinction of being named a “National Cyber Scholars.”

Cybersecurity is a vital job to protect your personal and financial information online. Now, more people are learning the ropes of the industry at an early age people like Bridget Foster. Luckily for her, it runs in her blood.

“My dad has been working in computers since I was born,” said Foster.

Most people can’t crack the computer codes, but for Foster, it’s like a game.

“I like solving puzzles and completing things,” said Foster.

Foster is enrolled at the College and Career Technical Institute in the Pascagoula Gautier School District. Her computer science teacher Jana Odom took notice of her love and skill for computers.

“She’s an engaged student, wants to learn new things, happy to try out things when I give her something new,” said Odom.

Odom gave Foster something new by encouraging her to enter the National Cyber Scholarship Competition. Foster said the two-day competition had students solve a variety of computer code issues.

“We had to decode the QR code and it would give us a link to the password that we were supposed to find,” said Foster.

The competition started out with more than 30,000 students across the nation and Foster was one of the 600 who earned the title “National Cyber Scholar” and a $2,500 scholarship for selected schools.

“I’m like really proud of myself,” said Foster. “I didn’t think I would get this far.”

Odom said many people don’t realize how much cyber protection that we need.

“Everything is online now,” said Odom. “We’re on social media, we’re building websites and we’ve got to protect them. Look up website reviews and app reviews. Because so many things can go wrong so quick.”

Caution online is second nature for Foster, but she admits she was even hesitant to open the celebratory email.

“I thought it was a fishing email,” said Foster. “I thought it was a scam.”

Foster said students qualified for the competition by scoring between 15-30% on the entry exam, Foster scored 50%.

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