Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Representative Jamaal Bowman joined elected officials and educators at SUNY Westchester Community College (WCC) to encourage students to apply to the Cyber Service Academy scholarship program, which grants students free college in return for public service in the Department of Defense (DoD). The federal lawmakers were joined by Deputy County Executive Ken Jenkins, WCC Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Vanessa Morest, and Professor John Watkins, WCC Cybersecurity Curriculum Chair.
Gillibrand created the Cyber Service Academy scholarship program through her work on the Senate Armed Services Committee. Successful applicants are provided a scholarship covering the full cost of tuition, select books and fees, a stipend, purchase of a laptop, and more. Successful applicants incur a service commitment which starts after the awarding of their degree; individuals will serve in roles throughout the DoD for a period equivalent to the length of their scholarship. Areas of study include cybersecurity, cyber operations, digital and multimedia forensics, computer crime investigations, and more.
As of 2022, there were nearly 40,000 unfilled public-sector cybersecurity positions, and the tech workforce that our government does have is quickly aging out. Just 7 percent of federal employees in computer science, computer engineering and information technology positions are under 30.
“There are nearly 40,000 unfilled public-sector cybersecurity positions, leaving our country with a severe shortage of cyber personnel needed to protect ourselves from adversaries like Russia,” said Senator Gillibrand. “The Cyber Service Academy will create a pipeline for a talented, highly-trained cyber workforce, granting one year of free college for every year of subsequent public service. Westchester Community College is a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity and I encourage students to apply, earn free college and serve your country.”
“Investing in cyber fields is critical to ensuring that our institutions and our kids keep up with the quickly changing tech landscape,” said Congressman Jamaal Bowman Ed.D. (NY-16). “Students from all backgrounds should be able to access higher education, especially for STEM and cybersecurity fields where Black and Latino voices have historically been underrepresented. To build a workforce that’s prepared for the future, we have to invest not only in education, but also workforce development for redlined communities, and that’s exactly what Senator Gillibrand’s scholarship program will do.”
“The Cybersecurity program at SUNY WCC provides students with the skills and training they need for the high-demand jobs in a field that is of vital importance to our region and our nation. This program would not be possible without the support of government officials such as Senator Gillibrand and others who value community colleges and the contributions of our students,” said Dr. Vanessa Morest, WCC Provost, and Vice President of Academic Affairs.
“Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s Cyber Service Academy scholarship program offers a great opportunity for SUNY Westchester Community College students and it also creates a pipeline of cyber personnel to protect our national security. With nearly 40,000 public-sector cybersecurity positions unfilled, her initiative not only offers students scholarships but also empowers them to serve their Country. We thank Senator Gillibrand for her dedication to our future cyber workforce both here in Westchester and nationwide,” said County Executive George Latimer.
SUNY Westchester Community College is one of 19 New York institutions eligible to offer the program because of its designation as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity. A full list of schools can be found here.
Interested students should go to www.gillibrand.senate.gov/cyberacademy and click on the DoD Cyber Scholarship Program link to apply. This page will continue to be updated as the DoD refines its application process. Open enrollment starts November 1st.