Software Development
Cybersecurity / Education / Women in tech / Youth

Meet the Padua students who rocked the Girls Go CyberStart competition

The five-time Cybersecurity State Champs showed up big time during a 24-hour “sleepover hackathon” that earned one Padua team the No. 1 rank in Delaware.

A few of the girls participating in the Girls Go CyberStart Challenge. (Courtesy photo)

Padua Academy has been in the news a lot lately, but here’s some Padua news you might have missed: The Catholic girls high dominated Delaware’s first Girls Go CyberStart Challenge. The state announced a partnership with CyberStart’s free training program for high school girls in January.

Padua’s Cyber Patriots Cybersecurity team has won the state title for five straight years, including this one, making them a top contender for the Girls Go CyberStart Challenge. Six Padua teams participated the challenge, including The Cyber Sisters, who ranked No. 1 in Delaware and sixth overall after a six-day competition that included a 24-hour “sleepover hackathon” organized by the school’s IT department.

There was pizza and caffeinated beverages and coding. Lots of coding.

Juniors Sami Faraone and Olivia Lundstrom are two of the four members of The Cyber Sisters team. After the hackathon, they, along with Padua IT Director Fred Stinchcombe and IT Manager Maria Elena Marinelli, represented their school at the SANS Women in Cyber Security Conference (WiCyS) in Chicago.

One of the Padua teams. (Courtesy photo)

One of the Padua teams. (Courtesy photo)

“I became interested in coding after taking a programming class at Padua,” said Faraone, who favors challenges that involve Linux.

Lundstrom also started coding with a programming class at Padua. “My dad, a software developer, encouraged me to take it,” said Lundstrom. “After taking the class, I realized how much fun it was and decided that coding was something I wanted to do.” WiCyS offered her the opportunity to learn more about cybersecurity careers, a field she’s considering, thanks, in part, to CyberStart.

“The CyberStart competition has had a really big impact on my view of cybersecurity,” Lundstrom said. “It was extremely fun to play and, at the same time, very informative. It has made me consider pursuing a job in cybersecurity, which was ultimately the goal of the program.”

One of the Padua teams. (Courtesy photo)

One of the Padua teams. (Courtesy photo)

The CyberStart challenges, she said, “involved hacking into fake websites and writing code in order to find the ‘flag’ you could use to solve the level. My favorite challenge was one that required you to look into the page source code to find the URL of an image that wasn’t working. To solve it, you had to copy the URL, paste it into another tab, and then change it so that it would show the image that contained the flag.”

Coding through the night. (Courtesy photo)

Coding through the night. (Courtesy photo)

“Overall, the whole hackathon experience was amazing,” said Faraone. “I learned how far I can push myself if I really want to win, and I met new people who share the same interests as me.  I feel it helped me grow as a person.”

As the No. 1 ranked team in the state, The Cyber Sisters each won a Chromebook and a gift card, and the school received $750. Charter School of Wilmington ranked No. 2 in Delaware (13th overall); Padua ranked No. 3, 4, 5 and 6.

The Girls Go CyberStart Challenge is free and open to high school girls in Delaware, as well as American Samoa, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Texas, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming.

Click here to sign up to learn about upcoming competitions.

(Courtesy photo)

(Courtesy photo)


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