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Meet Our 2024 Scholarship Recipients

The headshots of the five Cyber Security Scholarship recipients appear with the RTF and SANS logos.

At the heart of the Rural Technology Fund’s mission is our goal to help rural students pursue careers in computer technology. Every year, we proudly give scholarships to deserving students who are passionate about tech and eager to succeed. These scholarships are a key part of what we do, supporting our efforts to bring tech resources into classrooms and spark interest in computer-related careers. Supporting students even after they graduate, we believe in the potential of our scholarship recipients as they start their journeys in the tech world.

The Cyber Security Scholarship, provided through a partnership with the SANS Institute, is awarded to students from rural communities pursuing a computer technology-related field focusing on security. This scholarship provides a $1000 award plus the opportunity to take two SANS training courses and the two corresponding GIAC certification exams. These highly desirable certifications provide a jumpstart towards a cyber security career. This year, we chose five winners: Amy Dederich, Madison Jones, Andrew Karnes, Rylan Moore, and Dylan Webster.

Amy Dederich of McLean, IL, will study cybersecurity at Maryville University of Saint Louis in the fall. Curious about technology from a young age, she took her interests into her own hands. She wrote, “I found a posting for applications for the GenCyber Summer Camp at Illinois State University, and this is where I was first introduced to the world of cybersecurity and defense.” With the dream of becoming a cybercrime analyst and investigator, Amy plans to protect critical infrastructure and systems for everyday people. She stated, “Even though I am moving to a big city for the foreseeable future, I will bring the values of community building, looking out for others, and connecting with people, that being in a small town has taught me.”


Madison Jones will be studying at the University of North Carolina Wilmington come fall. Growing up in the tight-knit community of Berlin Center, OH, she plans to study cybersecurity. As a kid, Madison would tinker with computers and tackle a password hacking issue on her own, leading to her interest in the field. She wrote, “I hope to become a technology forensic analyst, tracking down malicious activity on the internet, or a security specialist, protecting my team from cybercrimes. I am really hopeful for my future career and want to help as many people or businesses as I can, using my degree and motivational attitude to stop problems at their sources.”


Andrew Karnes of Cape Girardeau, MO, will be studying cybersecurity at the University of Colorado Boulder in the fall. Loving to understand how things work, Andrew would take gadgets apart as a child. Now, he wants to use his analytical skills to make an impact. He wrote, “Hailing from a small town, I understand the vulnerabilities and lack of resources that often plague rural communities in the digital space. My dream is to use the knowledge and skills I acquire in school to specifically protect and educate people in rural areas. These communities, often overlooked in the digital security narrative, need champions who can bridge the gap between advanced technology and local understanding.”


Rylan Moore of Caney, KS, will be studying at the University of Kansas in the fall. He said, “Since I was a kid, I have always been enamored with technology. From exploring every feature of my phone, to constantly experimenting with an old computer, I always had my brain on how things worked.” Majoring in cybersecurity, his dream job is to become a cybersecurity researcher to utilize the latest technology in the field and also contribute to the advancement of cybersecurity overall. He stated, “What excites me most about this field is its rapid changes and constant advancement. A new challenge is always fun, and getting to understand and utilize new and advanced technology is one of my greatest passions.”


Dylan Webster will be studying cybersecurity and information technology at Capella University in the fall. Hailing from Tifton, GA, he worked at his local hospital’s tech department as an analyst, aiding in improvement measures for the network. He wrote about his future, “Protecting one’s privacy and personal details has become a skill that the modern consumer would do well to take better care of, and the general public is constantly astonished at the level of detail in which a business can peer into their lives.…my dream job is to work in the public sector defining security policy for future generations of business to benefit from. I especially dream of doing this for healthcare facilities in small towns like mine that lack resources or awareness about proper modern security architectures.”

We are thrilled to be involved with these amazing students and cannot wait to see what they accomplish in their programs. We are so proud of you!