Graduate Student Experiential Learning Program (Cyber ExL)

COVA CCI is connecting selected graduate students with unique opportunities across the region. Under the Graduate Student Experiential Learning program, a graduate student is assigned to work with an industry partner on real-world cybersecurity challenges, assisting faculty at community colleges in mentoring students and assisting in the development of curriculum, working with other graduate students from different universities on other selected projects. 

Previous experiences include graduate students from Norfolk State University, Old Dominion University, and the College of William & Mary working with local small businesses as a member of their project teams working on government contracts, supporting Paul D. Camp Community College with mentoring cybersecurity students and assisting in creating new content for courses, assisting Christopher Newport University’s cybersecurity program by acting as mentors to their students and assisting faculty in teaching and advising students. Also, students from the College of William & Mary Law School supported undergraduate students from across the region in the Cyber Innovate Challenge by mentoring the teams of students in developing their project and communications skills. 

Contact Dr. Stephanie J. Blackmon,, for specific questions regarding this program.

You can also send any questions regarding this program to

Meet the Spring 2024 Cohort

It was through my involvement in this program that I decided to purse a Doctoral degree in cybersecurity where I will focus on Cloud Computing. This opportunity has changed my academic and professional track and it had a great impact on me.


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Amanda Wise, who hails from Hampton, Virginia and is earning her master’s degree in cybersecurity from ODU, spotted an opportunity to put her classroom skills to use in the COVA CCI Graduate Student Experiential Learning program. She began interning at MI Technical Solutions (MITS) this spring. “They welcomed me and let me jump right into working with the cybersecurity team from day one,” Amanda said. “Everyone at MITS loves to learn and share knowledge.” The internship was so successful that MITS offered Amanda a job. “I believe Amanda came to us with a great set of skills and desire to learn,” said Michael Ihrig, company CEO. Would he hire another CCI intern?  “Absolutely,” Ihrig said, “especially if the interns are as qualified as Amanda.”

Request for Industry & Academic Proposals

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COVA CCI is supported by the Commonwealth Cyber Initiative and funded through the Commonwealth of Virginia.