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Hear from Chris, KnowBe4’s 2022 Black Americans in Cybersecurity Scholarship Winner

By: KnowBe4 HR

Published: 20 Jul 2022
Last Updated: 20 Jul 2022

In an effort to increase the percentage of Black Americans in the cybersecurity industry, KnowBe4 offers a yearly $10,000 scholarship and (ISC)² certification package, open to any Black American who is pursuing a degree in cybersecurity. Chris, KnowBe4's 2022 scholarship winner, recently graduated from Bishop McNamara High School. He will join the United States Naval Academy this fall and study computer science with an emphasis in cyber operations as a USNA Foundation Scholar. In today's blog, we are thrilled to learn more about Chris!

Chris Graduation Photo

 

What initially sparked your interest in computer science and cybersecurity?

I watched an online video about the Rust programming language in middle school. Although it was complicated to understand at the time, I was intrigued and wanted to learn more. I logged on to a discord server to ask people how I could get into the computer science world. The community members jokingly told me to learn older languages like MS-DOS [BATCH] or Visual Basic Script. Unaware that I was being trolled, I learned the languages. Every day, I continued to learn code. I was hooked! 

 

How will this scholarship help you start your career?

Chris Accepted to Naval Academy

Ever since I was eleven, I’ve had clear educational and career goals. I knew I wanted to graduate from the US Naval Academy (USNA) and study computer science with an emphasis in cyber operations. I have reached the first step and I'm excited to have been accepted to the Naval Academy as a USNA Foundation Scholar!

Receiving the Black Americans in Cybersecurity Scholarship from KnowBe4 will help me financially and also provide me with an opportunity to take the CISSP exam. I have wanted to take this exam and have been saving money for it. By passing this exam and receiving the certification, I will have more credibility when I write my articles, record my YouTube sessions, or partner on projects. The CISSP is a huge (and completely unexpected) bonus that I cannot wait to sign up for! Being awarded a scholarship from a company that leads in the cybersecurity field is truly affirming and meaningful.

 

Who inspires you and why?

Chris Holding Certificate

Although I cannot pinpoint a specific person, I can say there is a particular character trait that certainly inspires me. I admire people who push themselves past their comfort zone. I try to surround myself with people like this so I can also push my limits!

 

What is your favorite quote?

Chris High School Photo

“If you think that you’re too small to change the world, you’ve never been in the dark with a mosquito.”
-Dalai Lama

I love this quote because it effectively demonstrates that anyone can influence the world around them. No one, no question, and no idea are too small or insignificant. I live by this quote; it motivates me to try new things and push myself.

During the pandemic, I took advantage of the extra time to launch my own cybersecurity project, “CosmodiumCS.” CosmodiumCS serves as an education platform, where I teach the importance of cybersecurity while also exploring ways to protect yourself and your devices. I also write and publish cybersecurity articles, create YouTube videos, and compete in numerous Capture the Flag (CTF) hacking competitions. During the pandemic, I also earned certificates in four programming languages and now teach Python after school and online.

My online YouTube videos started to gain so much traction that they attracted the attention of Hak5 CEO Darren Kitchen, and the cybersecurity icon, John Hammond. We have been partnering on various online projects, and I am gaining many followers and subscribers! I have also been invited by a university in Poland to be a guest speaker for one of their classes. All of this happened because I wasn’t afraid to try.

 

What do you like to do for fun?

Chris Boating

Outside of coding, I like to go skateboarding and boating. I enjoy being out in nature as much as possible; it is a good escape from being on the screen all the time. I always say, “it’s a good get away from the blue light and into the sunlight!”

 

What advice would you give to someone interested in applying for this scholarship next year?

Chris Navy Sea Cadets

My biggest piece of advice would be to take this as an opportunity to share your story and why this field is important to you. Do not be afraid of putting yourself out there! You will learn much about yourself.

KnowBe4 is proud to offer cybersecurity scholarships for women, veterans, and Black Americans. If you or anyone you know might be a good fit for this opportunity, click the button below for more information on how you can apply!

Are you KnowBe4’s next scholarship winner?

CHECK OUR AVAILABLE SCHOLARSHIPS

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