High School Students Study Cybersecurity, Earn College Credit in Program’s Inaugural Year
The Summer Scholars Program at the College of Southern Maryland (CSM) gives high-achieving high school students the chance to take an in-depth look at an area of interest, such as cybersecurity, music or robotics. By completing the three weeks of college-level study, the students also get a taste of the college experience while earning three college credits.
“The purpose is to get students into their field of study while they are in high school,” said CSM Student Engagement Coordinator Nancy Ingwalson, coordinator of the Summer Scholars Program.
CSM just completed the inaugural year of the Summer Scholars Program, with students completing the Cybersecurity Academy, which ran from July 10 to 27. “The course is going well,” Inwalson said. “The students are excited about it.”
Participants attended a computer security class (ITS-2090) taught by CSM Professor Wendy Hayes along with student assistant, Lakisha Ferebee. In addition, a variety of extended learning activities and interactive games were built into the schedule. Guest speakers worked with the students on dealing with stress in college, college readiness and career counseling. The students also took a field trip to the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt and the National Cryptological Museum in Annapolis Junction.
“I am exceptionally impressed by these students, their ability to think, their ability to write,” Hayes said. “This is a sophomore-level course in college … These students are really brilliant.”
Josh Hoffman, 16, of Mechanicsville, a rising junior at the Great Mills High School STEM Academy, said he plans to major in nuclear engineering in college but he was interested in exploring cybersecurity. “It’s been fun. It’s been challenging,” Hoffman said. “The professor is really good. Overall, I really liked the program, and I would recommend it to any student looking into the field or wanting to explore it.”
Two brothers, Clayton Crownover, 16, and Garrett Crownover, 15, of Mechanicsville went through the Summer Scholars Program together.
Clayton Crownover, a rising junior at the GMHS STEM Academy who is dual-enrolled at CSM, said the program helped him as he considers his future. “I am kind of on the fence between engineering or cybersecurity. This camp really helped clarify,” he said. “It was definitely a lot of material. But it was manageable…. I think it’s a pretty good program.”
His brother, a rising sophomore at the GMHS STEM academy, is currently planning to major in chemical engineering. “I was thinking of going here for two years and then transferring to a college that supports these credentials,” Garrett Crownover said. Cybersecurity “is always a good backup option if I want to change my major. I liked the program a lot.”
Brandon Durham, 18, of Waldorf graduated this June from North Point High School and will be attending CSM in the fall semester, where he plans to major in cybersecurity. Participation in the Summer Scholars Program gave him early exposure to a program he is already committed to. “I heard that it was a good way to learn for the Security+ exam,” Durham said. “Content-wise, it’s everything. It’s really good … It is time-intensive, and it is a lot of work.”
Paul Bishop, 16, of Hollywood, a rising junior at Leonardtown High School, is interested in studying astrophysics and computer science in college. He is in a three-year program at the Dr. James A Forrest Career and Technology Center. The third year focuses on cybersecurity. “I thought I could get a head start,” Bishop said of attending the Summer Scholars Program.
Bishop said he appreciated “just the experience of how college classes work. The feel of college. Just the knowledge itself. It’s nice.”
CSM Director of Admissions Brian Hammond noted that the Summer Scholars Program is designed to better prepare high school students for the next educational step. “The program blends small, interactive, on-campus classes with extended learning activities designed to prepare the student for college success,” Hammond said.
To apply for the CSM Summer Scholars Program, students must complete and submit the online application and provide their high school transcript and a letter of recommendation from a high school teacher. An academic average of 3.0 or better is required. Admission is competitive and contingent upon space availability.
“We’re definitely going to be doing this again next year,” Ingwalson said. Three academies will be offered — Robotics, Cybersecurity and American Music. For information on CSM’s Summer Scholars Program, visit csmd.edu/summerscholars.