Victory doesn’t have to mean you won first place or took the gold medal. To be a Champion you don’t have to beat all your opponents. Champions are measured on valor, which sometimes we don’t know until we’re put to the test. It’s measured on overcoming obstacles in our life, reaching a dream or achieving our goals. It’s rising above where we started. My Cyber Patriot students didn’t make it this year to the semi-finals, but they are still champions. This year I served as a Technical Mentor for Hocker Grove Middle School who participated in the Air Force Association (AFA) Cyber Patriot Competition program at Shawnee Mission School District. Todd Nafus, Hocker Grove teacher, and sponsor was relentless in his support. It wasn’t always easy, as this was our first year, we ran into many technical challenges, missed a round of competition, but we plowed through, steadied the course. But we didn’t give up. Because we didn’t give up, the students didn’t give up on us.

What Is Cyber Patriot?

Cyber Patriot is the National Youth Cyber Education Program created by the Air Force Association to inspire K-12 students toward careers in cybersecurity or other science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines critical to our nation’s future. At the core of the program is the National Youth Cyber Defense Competition, the nation’s largest cyber defense competition that puts high school and middle school students in charge of securing virtual networks.

I could not have worked with a better team of folks, Beth Fritts and Karen Whitacre, Director’s Kansas Starbase, and James Laurie, HRIS Datacenters and father of one of the students. I can’t wait for next year! If you’re interested in being a mentor go to Cyber Patriots web site and sign up to be a mentor for the 2020 competition, or contact me at WinS Mentors organization here. We could use your help. It’s really a lots of fun!