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Vermont Partners with Sans Institute to Offer Cyber Challenge for High School Girls

January 24, 2018

Montpelier, Vt. – Governor Phil Scott today announced a new cybersecurity training partnership between the State and the SANS Institute. 

GirlsGoCyberStart, a free online game of discovery, provides Vermont high school girls interested in a cybersecurity career, with a tool to learn basic cybersecurity skills and test their cyber aptitude. An introductory practice version of GirlsGoCyberStart will be available January 29 - February 16 and the full-scale program will run from February 20 – 25.  

“I am pleased to announce this partnership with the SANS Institute, which gives Vermont’s high school girls the opportunity to explore and excel in cyber, at no cost to them,” said Gov. Scott.  “Growing Vermont’s workforce is a priority for my administration, and targeting cyber workforce specifically is critical to our future success in the increasingly important cybersecurity sector. This is a great way for us to expand our talent pipeline by engaging young people interested in learning about cybersecurity and directing them to the appropriate training and career coaching.”

Students from Vermont who excel in the CyberStart program will have the opportunity to share in $150,000 in scholarships for further cyber education, and ultimately an additional $500,000 in scholarships for college and graduate-level training and preparation for highly sought-after industry certifications. Vermont students will be competing with students from fifteen other states for these scholarships. The scholarships are sponsored by the SANS Institute. 

“The GirlsGoCyberStart program is an exciting opportunity for girls who are interested in cybersecurity, but not currently engaged in formal cyber training, to test their cyber acumen and potentially earn scholarships for advanced industry-relevant training and certification,” said Secretary of Agency of Digital Services, John Quinn.  “We are pleased to have the opportunity to partner with the SANS Institute on this extremely important initiative.”   

“This initiative aligns perfectly with our efforts to expose students to careers in high-demand fields, and to allow them to explore jobs that may be a good match with their talents and interests,” added Secretary of Education Rebecca Holcombe. “By providing scholarships, the SANS Institute will also help ensure that girls with the potential to succeed in cybersecurity can access the requisite training and education, regardless of their financial circumstances.”

When asked why SANS is partnering with Vermont in GirlsGoCyberStart program, SANS Director of Research, Alan Paller said, “Because the nation desperately needs more highly-skilled cyber professionals, and we have new evidence that CyberStart radically improves the quality and preparation of people entering the cybersecurity field.  Further, the two best cyber intrusion analysts I have ever met were named Vicki and Judy, but women are woefully underrepresented in the technical side of cybersecurity. By opening CyberStart to tens of thousands of high school girls we may be able to help the nation identify the next generation of talented people who will excel in this critical field.”

For eligibility and CyberStart information, please visit