Charissa Kim attended her first cyber camp during the summer before her freshman year of high school. Now, the graduating senior at Troy High School is getting ready to participate in her fourth CyberPatriot National competition — a designation that’s earned her the honor of Cyber All-American.
Kim said it did not take long after that first camp for her to know that cybersecurity would become her passion and future career path.
“With the touch of the keyboard and mouse, I could easily secure technological devices,” Kim said. “After learning how to defend my virtual images, I thought it was amazing how I could potentially configure vulnerabilities and defend innocent people from hackers.”
Kim and her teammates at Troy High School practice 2-3 hours per day; that hard work has paid off with three consecutive trips to CyberPatriot Nationals, including a first-place finish in the All-Service Division at CyberPatriot X in 2018.
Along the way, Kim received the Northrop Grumman Information Systems Scholarship in 2017 and 2018 and earned an IT Fundamentals certification. She also serves as a mentor to younger students on her team and organized an all-female hackathon.
“I enjoy CyberPatriot because it is a team sport. Every individual on the team has to play an important part on the team,” Kim said. “This fast-paced competition has turned into a fun method to test and hone my Cisco skills.”
She also founded a non-profit called Cyber Youth Tech, an international, youth-led organization dedicated to empowering the next generation of STEM and cyber leaders. The group currently has 12 branches around the world focused on the pillars of community, education, opportunity, and outreach.
“Founding Cyber Youth Tech allowed me to realize that anyone, including me, has the potential to greatly spread awareness about cybersecurity,” Kim said. “Organizing one of the first all-female hackathons allowed me to see that there is the potential to close the gender gap in the tech industry.”
When she’s not busy with cybersecurity activities, Kim is part of Troy High School’s mock trial and cross-country teams and a Unit Management Systems Officer in the NJROTC.
Moving forward, Kim hopes to pursue a cybersecurity degree at the U.S. Naval Academy and serve the country as a cyber warfare officer. She also has applied for the National Security Agency’s Stokes Educational Scholarship Program as an alternative means to go to college and become a cybersecurity professional.
“As the world is becoming more technology-based, many industries are vulnerable to cyber attacks, meaning cybersecurity is becoming more prevalent and vital to today’s society,” Kim said. “Working as a network analyst or a cybersecurity specialist could help fulfill my passion for cybersecurity and majorly benefit companies or industries from being attacked.”