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Gannon University Awards Scholarships To Hackathon Winners

Published: 02/21/2020

Students participating in the 2020 Hackathon Full Scholarship Competition

Students participating in the 2020 Hackathon Full Scholarship Competition

Gannon University proudly announced two grand prizes of full-tuition scholarships following a tie at the culmination of the university’s annual Hackathon Cybersecurity Competition.

Gannon awarded the full-tuition scholarships to winners Zachary Dickinson of Pittsburgh and a senior at North Hills High School, and Alyssa MacLefko of Cheektowaga, NY and a senior at Maryville High School. Both students demonstrated a skillset that set them apart from the competition and tied for the highest scores in both the virtual and on-campus Hackathon events. 

Dickinson expressed his sentiments after receiving the news that he was one of the two top winners. 

“It’s an honor to have won, and I’m really excited to see that Gannon is investing its resources into its students, expanding into the field of cybersecurity and into constructing the Knight Tower,” Dickinson said. 

MacLefko shared in the excitement. “I was so excited to hear I won. I thought the Hackathon was a great showcase of all that Gannon University has to offer, and it was fun to start friendships with students who have similar interests to mine. It was really exciting to hear about all the future career opportunities in the cybersecurity field,” MacLefko said. 

In addition, 13 high school seniors and one junior who participated in the on-campus Hackathon had their Admissions Merit Award increased by $1,500. 

Gannon University first welcomed high school students from across the nation to participate in one of two virtual Hackathon competitions as a gateway for the top competitors to be invited to the on-campus Hackathon on Feb. 16. Advancing to this level were 14 skilled competitors who participated in a day-long event comprised of educational training and the final competition. 

Competitors learned from faculty and cybersecurity experts to gain a fundamental understanding of cybersecurity and prepare for the final Hackathon challenges. During the challenges, students answered a series of questions and applied their web-based hacking skills to create solutions to challenges simulating real-world cybersecurity threats.

A total of 120 students registered for this year’s Hackathon event. Registrants ranged in grade level from freshmen to seniors in high school and represented 6 different states from across the country, including Pennsylvania, Michigan, Maryland, Ohio, New Jersey and New York. 

 “Cybersecurity and cyber engineering are two fields that are going to be of utmost importance to individuals, communities, the U.S. and the world as technology continues to develop,” said Tom Camillo, director of Undergraduate Admissions at Gannon. “It is our goal to attract students who understand the impact they can have with their skill sets and spread the word that Gannon is on the front line of addressing the world’s needs.” 

All media inquiries can be made by contacting Haley Figurski, Media Relations and Marketing Manager, at 814-823-1886.