Westminster College hosts National Security program for high school students

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FULTON - Westminster College hosted a three-day program on national security for Missouri high school students in order to teach and train them about different domestic and international security issues.

Around 20 students spent three days at Westminster College learning about national security as part of the Westminster Institute for National Security program.

The focus of Tuesday's training was cyber security, and students spent the day investigating computer forensics and maps of where cyber threats originate.

Westminster students studying national security and political science helped teach and train the students.

Kelli Albrecht, a junior in political science at Westminster, said that she wanted the students to realize national security is important to mid-Missouri and is not just limited to Washington D.C.

"We have the nuclear plant and a lot of that stuff is run online by different servers," Albrecht said. "I think that the nuclear plant is probably our closest big threat."

Albrecht also said students learned about the scope of national security beyond cyber security and how it relates to the world

"It kind of gave them a more relative experience to think about culture and think about what every different country wants," Albrecht said. "Every country obviously wants something different, and they all have something different to bring to the table and they want to take something away."

Caleb Marquis, a recent graduate of Westminster, helped instruct students and said he thinks they should take what they've learned into their daily lives.

"Easily the most important thing for me is for the students to learn to have the capability to address these problems themselves," Marquis said. "Not just taking that as the answer. Just finding your own answers and being able to debate these things and have open dialogue."

Linda Webster, a professor of technology at Westminster who instructed the students, said she wanted them to know that cyber security is constantly evolving to deal with new threats.

"We can never reach of point where everything is secure," Webster said. "Once we secure something then there are attackers out there, there are hackers trying to find a new way to get around that."

Maryanne Korte, a Steelville High School student who attended the program, said she enjoyed the seminar on international relations and hopes to take what she learned at the program into an embassy job.

"I thought it was very eye-opening to learn what goes on in an embassy," Korte said. "You always hear about how it's working relations between our country and another country, but they went more in depth. I really liked hearing about that."  

Dr. Tobias Gibson, an associate professor of political science at Westminster, said national security is an issue that affects all Americans and that it's important for people to be aware of the different threats around them.

"The majority of the adult population doesn't realize the complexities of national security," Gibson said. "So this was intended, in essence, to begin that education process sooner."