Photo courtesy of Peoria Unified School District

In a showcase of talent and expertise, Cactus High School senior, Cougarjade Reyes, was a keynote speaker at the prestigious NICE K12 Cybersecurity Education Conference in Phoenix this month.

Held on December 4 and 5, the conference was a gathering of the nation’s brightest minds in cybersecurity education, where Cougarjade’s participation marked a significant milestone for Cactus High and its students.

Cougarjade, a standout in his school in the cybersecurity field, earned his place on this esteemed platform through a series of impressive accomplishments. In 2022, he was the proud recipient of the Cactus High School’s Air Force Junior ROTC (AFJROTC) Cyber Academy Scholarship. His skills and leadership abilities also earned him the top rank among 150 ambassadors at the Hugh O’Brien Youth AZ Seminar that same year. His expertise in cybersecurity caught national attention, with an online feature in Computer Science for All, highlighting his role in an AJFROTC Demonstration Project aimed at expanding high school students’ exposure to cybersecurity education.

The decision to invite Cougarjade as a keynote speaker was a nod to his exceptional skill set in cybersecurity, his inspiring career aspirations post-graduation, his captivating story, and his prowess as a public speaker. His nomination for the role came from Cactus High School teacher, Ken Mattern, with strong backing from his Air Force Junior ROTC instructor, Lt. Col. Roel Zamora.

Joining Cougarjade in representing Cactus High at the conference was junior Tyler Black, who participated in the student panel. Tyler, as described by a teacher, embodies the ‘Cobra spirit’ through his unique approach to merging cybersecurity, STEM, leadership, and innovation to create successful opportunities for his peers and the community.

The NICE K12 Cybersecurity Education Conference is known for bringing together innovative educators and professionals from across the country. The conference serves as a vital platform for exploring cybersecurity careers and pathways, inspiring a new generation to become the future workforce in this critical field.

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