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Alex King at James Clemens named 2021 National Cyber Scholar

MADISON – Alex King, a senior at James Clemens High School, has been named a National Cyber Scholar in the National Cyber Scholarship Competition.

The National Cyber Scholarship Foundation sponsors the challenging online competition covering 48 hours. In recognition of his achievement, King earned an invitation to the Cyber Foundations Academy, an online program for multiple weeks with the nationally recognized SANS Foundations training course as its basis. The course is valued at more than $3,000.

King competed against 5,000 high school students in a cybersecurity competition designed to challenge its participants to solve computer security problems, capture and defend computer systems or a combination of these tasks. In total, 50,000 students nationwide sought to qualify, with only 10 percent satisfying requirements.

The Alabama State Board of Education honored King with a resolution that commends his efforts and experience to qualify as a 2021 National Cyber Scholar “after successfully wining the rigorous 48-hour national technology competition designed to evaluate professional skills in combating cyber threats.”

In middle school, King’s computer science classes sparked his interest in cyber security. He learned about the competition from his cyber security teacher, Lee Ann Pessoney, at James Clemens. “She told me about the competition my junior year; I will miss her during my senior year, as she has accepted a full-time position at the Center for Cyber Security Research and Education at the University of Alabama in Huntsville,” he said.

“Mrs. Pessoney has really supported me by providing extra opportunities in the field of cyber security outside of those offered by James Clemens,” King said. “I am thankful Mrs. Pessoney came to the Alabama State Board of Education meeting in Montgomery to see me get my award.”

King enrolled in extra online courses. After graduation, he will have completed James Clemens Computer Science Career Academy. He pursued two summer internships with MITRE, where he received a SPARK Award for his contributions and teamwork.

“After graduating from college with a degree in cyber security, I will enter the workforce in a related field,” King said.

At James Clemens, King was Captain for JROTC Cyber Patriots; his team placed in Platinum National Semi-Finals for two years. He participated with Computer Science Team and National Beta Club. He attained Eagle Scout ranking and was vice president of Venturing Crew.

King volunteers at Madison Church of Christ and in community events. His hobbies are programming, reading and traveling.

His parents are Richard and Dr. Molly King. Richard is a Program Manager for the U.S. Army. Molly is a college professor.

A national nonprofit organization, the National Cyber Scholarship Foundation identifies and nurtures the next generation of cybersecurity experts, while eliminating the gap for cybersecurity skills in the United States.

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