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Students get a preview of cyber careers at Innovation North Luncheon

Kevin Nolten was guest speaker at the Innovation North Luncheon. (Stacey Tinsley/Press-Tribune)

By Stacey Tinsley, stinsley@bossierpress.com

Local students got a preview of future careers and higher education opportunities in cyber Tuesday.

The Innovation North Louisiana Luncheon at the CenturyLink Center in Bossier, hosted by the Bossier Chamber of Commerce, provided high schoolers and business mentors with real life stories about cyber science career opportunities.

Keynote speaker Kevin Nolten, member of the Workforce Development, Education and Public Outreach Committee of the Louisiana Cyber Commission and NICERC Director of Academic Outreach, told the audience that as a byproduct of the Bossier-Shreveport area, he wants to instill and convey his passion that he has for this community into students.

“As a byproduct of being raised in the Shreveport-Bossier area, being educated in the Shreveport-Bossier area, and now working in the Shreveport-Bossier area. I want to instill my passion for this community — the investment that this community is making in education and in workforce — into these students so they have something to be proud of,” Nolten says.

Student Ian Duncan was one of 10 recipients a scholarship. (Stacey Tinsley/Press-Tribune)

NICERC reaches 2.4 million students across the United States. They work with an education model — focused on cyber, STEM and computer science curricula — that was developed in Bossier out of the CIC. Locally, they continue to work with higher ed institutions in addition to Bossier Schools to invest in the talent.

“Louisiana is on the map for cultivating talent and helping build a workforce pipeline for cyber,” Nolten added.

Three Louisiana Tech University college students also addressed the high school students. They informed the students on the importance of studying cyber technology in school and what careers await if they continue through with it to college.

Computer science major, Kylie Kalinowski, told students that as soon as they graduate from college, they will have a great paying job with no field experience required.

“One of the greatest things about majoring in cyber is knowing that their will be well-paying jobs available right out of college. The average starting salary for someone in the cyber security field is about $78,000 a year, with no field experience what so ever,” Kalinowski says.

The Bossier Innovates Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization of the Bossier Chamber, awarded 10 scholarships to high school students who have identified an interest in cyber-related fields.

The recipients of $1,000 scholarships are:

  • Brandi Butler, Caddo Magnet High School
  • Ian Duncan, Caddo Magnet High School
  • Creighton France, Benton High School
  • Wesley Goins, Captain Shreve High School
  • Zachary Grames, Airline High School
  • David Jara, Parkway High School
  • John Norris, Benton High School
  • Benjamin Sanguinetti, Benton High School
  • Ethan Ubeda, Caddo Magnet High School
  • Logan Wilhite, Airline High School

The Bossier Innovates Foundation also honored a local teacher with the 2018 Excellence in Education & Innovation Award. This year’s recipient was Richard Scott, who serves as an instructional leader at a local department of defense youth program called STARBASE. 

Each year this particular event focuses on a specific core field that is up-and-coming yet underrepresented by the local workforce.

Innovation North Louisiana Week festivities will end on the 15th.

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Sean Green is managing editor of the Bossier Press-Tribune.