Student Alliance

The mission of the National Cybersecurity Center Student Alliance is to provide cybersecurity leadership, and one of our main pillars is K-12 education. As our nation addresses the critical gap in skilled cybersecurity talent, we address the importance of cyber education through programs and partnerships that invite students to participate in an ecosystem which encourages them to learn, explore, and build their skills.

In our K-12 initiative, the NCCSA offers opportunities for middle and high school students to improve technical literacy through fun, interactive, and challenging camps, field trips, workshops, and events. We encourage STEM education for all students, with special attention towards creating inviting and collaborative opportunities for girls and other underrepresented groups in the cyber ecosystem.

Adult Education

You don’t have to spend a fortune to receive quality cybersecurity training. As a 501(c)3, NCC is able to offer training for the CompTIA Network+ and Security+ certifications for a total of $250. 

We offer these two certifications because in our experience it is the Security+ and Network+ certifications which allow students to most easily break into the industry. Once you enter the industry, many government and private organizations subsidize further cybersecurity education, offering free or low-cost options to promote your cybersecurity skills and perform your job more efficiently.

Discover information on competitions, conferences and events

At the NCC, we have high school and college interns. Our interns have hands on experience by learning such as receiving an introduction to how computers work, the operations of virtual machines, as well as cyber safety, cyber ethics as well as cyber threats. We expand their cyber intern experience by adding more hands-on labs such as command line functions for Ubuntu as well as Windows operating systems. We also add Cisco training for networking by using Cisco’s Packet Tracer software that will introduce them to network configuration. Interns are able to learn how to operate the Sysinternals Suite, one of the most valuable assists of cybersecurity professionals, and a gate way to higher certifications.


The NCC gives interns practical cybersecurity experience by partnering with local, state, and government cybersecurity organizations. Interns are able to have access to professionals in the industry, participate in job shadowing, attend career fairs and benefit from receiving mentoring from various professionals in the industry. This coming summer, interns will be conducting free cybersecurity audits for local businesses.


Most of all, the internes will be able to cap off their engagements by receiving entry level certifications such as IT Fundamentals and Security Pro.  Our program helps to increase the number of people that are underrepresented in the cybersecurity industry.

The National Cybersecurity Center have several other programs and events that we engage with throughout the year, such as Literacy Festivals, Science Fairs, and capture the flag competitions.

All TestOut courses provide industry level certifications. TestOut has its own certification built into all of its courses. Once students complete TestOut’s Security Pro course, they will be eligible to get the CompTIA certification for the same course free, once they pass the TestOut version first. Students will initially purchase the test for their CompTIA certification. They will be reimbursed the $200 once they show proof that they have passed the certification class. We offer the CompTIA certification, because it is the most widely known and used certification and we want to ensure all of our students are equipped with the best credentials

Meet Your Cyber Education Team

Thomas Russell

Thomas Russell is the Cyber Education Program Manager for the National Cybersecurity Center. He is an army veteran who worked in the signal corps. His background also includes a master’s degree in education for Applied Technology from the College of Saint Rose and a Bachelor of Science in Information Systems Management, and an Associate degree in Network Security from Colorado Technical University.

As a teacher at Falcon High School, Thomas taught many classes such as Cybersecurity, Computer Applications, Networking, Technology Literacy, Health and Information Technology, Information Security, and Computer Forensics.

Thomas is a certified teacher for Career and Technical Education, Instructional Technology, and STEM, and has won the Boettcher Foundation Teacher Recognition Award, the Falcon Educational Foundation’s Outstanding Teacher Award, the District 49 Teacher of the Year Award, and has been nominated for Colorado Teacher of the Year. 

As the Cyber Education Program Manager for the Student Alliance, his responsibilities include: 

  • Running cybersecurity summer camps. 
  • Providing education and certification training for K-12 and adults. 
  • Organizing cyber events such as capture the flag competitions. 
  • Training teachers to teach cybersecurity. 
  • Forging relationships between businesses and educational institutions. 
  • Providing training and curriculum to teachers for K-12. 

In 2020, Thomas was awarded the Cyber Education Administrator of the Year by the EdCenter. He was also awarded an Honorary Doctorate for Cyber Education by the Denver Institute for Urban Studies. In 2021, Thomas won the National Center for Women in Computing (NCWIT) Educator Award and ten of Thomas’s girl students have won the Aspirations In Computing Award. His most recent book is Binary Society, a book of essays on the effects of technology on society. 

Dr. Rachel Gardner

Dr. Gardner holds a B.A. in English from Reed College and Ph.D in Comparative Literature (Continental Philosophy) from Emory University where she was honored as a Robert W. Woodruff Fellow. She has presented her work both internationally and nationally, most recently at the MLA and ACLA annual meetings. 

To the NCC, she brings a deep commitment to increasing access to education and a passion for genuine interdisciplinarity. She has taught in a variety of different contexts, including in Emory University’s Department of Comparative Literature, the Emory Center for Digital Scholarship, Lee Arrdenale State Prison, Buena Vista Correctional Center, and the Balata Refugee Camp. Her pedagogical excellence has been recognized both by a Dean’s Teaching Fellowship and several faculty development and excellence grants. 

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