RIPLEY • With the spring semester winding down, many students are making plans for summer activities, and Pine Grove High School student Gavin Brady is no different in that respect.
The Tippah County freshman is the first person to receive a full scholarship to a new cybersecurity camp at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, at the end of July.
Brady is one of 470 students from across the globe to compete for the $1,700 scholarship, and while other students have received scholarships to attend the space camp, Brady is the first to receive a full ride to Cyber Camp, which is in its second year.
When not playing video games, reading action adventure novels or participating in church activities, Brady enjoys building things and using a Raspberry Pi computer at home.
“Pretty much as far as I can remember, science always seemed really fun and interesting,” Brady said.
Brady attended a coding camp in Oxford last summer and has an interest in genetic engineering and cybersecurity.
“I did a paper in agri-science that was kind of fun. It was on genetically modified organisms, one on plants and one on animals, and while plants are kind of interesting, the animal part was really what got me. There was more a variety,” Brady said.
Brady said he is excited to learn about cybersecurity and learn new things to do with Raspberry Pi. In a world where everything from money to information has been digitized, Brady said cybersecurity is an important field today and he is interested in pursuing an advanced degree in computer engineering or another area of engineering area after high school.
His mother, Leslie Brady, works as a gifted teacher at the high school in Ripley and said her son has always had an interest in science and technology.
“I’m excited for Gavin, this will be new for him,” she said.
The Center’s Director of Communications Pat Ammons said the program was paid for through corporate sponsorship in previous years, but now students can apply for scholarships from a general scholarship fund.
Scholarships to the camps are awarded for the aviation challenge, a fighter jet pilot simulation program, space camp, a robotics engineering camp and the newer cybersecurity camp.
Ammons said applicants must go through an extensive process to receive a scholarship. Each applicant is considered based on factors such as academics, level of need and leadership abilities.
“They would have to go through the process, turn in an exceptional application and be evaluated against other applicants, then applicants would be chosen for a full scholarship,” Ammons said.
Ammons said attending the camps shows commitment on students’ college applications and shows students have a capacity to potentially pursue jobs in high-demand areas.
“These are jobs that are very high demand. Industries need people to do these jobs, so we hope these camps help the next astronauts, scientists, engineers and cybersecurity professionals,” Ammons said.
The U.S. Space & Rocket Center located in Huntsville is the official NASA visitor center for Marshall Space Flight Center.