MACON – Mercer University senior Daniel Mitchell placed in the top 10 in Secure the Future, a four-month national competition designed to address decision-making challenges regarding the protection of operational assets

Daniel Mitchell

The competition, organized by Palo Alto Networks, focuses on preparing participants to understand and discuss the future of security in multiple economic and business sectors.

Qualifying criteria included a test, followed by several months of study in areas such as artificial intelligence and the principles of zero trust networks.

Throughout the competition, students were given assignments that required independent research, culminating in short video presentations that summarized their overall findings and recommendations for a chosen area. At the end of this portion of the competition, grades were tallied, and the top 10 scoring participants were invited to make longer presentations to employees and leaders in Palo Alto, including the organization’s head of early talent recruiting and chief people officer.

“I’d like to give thanks to Dr. Eniye Tebekaemi for recommending the competition. I met other students interested in cybersecurity from a variety of backgrounds and studied advanced topics in my field. I got to dig into how security is integrated in real-world environments and how to improve the future,” said Mitchell. “I would recommend anyone studying cybersecurity at Mercer try and participate.”

The top-three scoring participants were awarded cash prizes, and all finalists were provided an opportunity to speak directly with Palo Alto’s recruiting team.

Mitchell, from Macon, is set to graduate from Mercer this semester with a Bachelor of Science in information science and technology with double-minors in computer science and cybersecurity.

“Daniel is a longtime member of Mercer’s Cyber Defense team and one of the pioneers of the cybersecurity undergraduate program,” said Dr. Eniye Tebekaemi, assistant professor of computer science. “Daniel is very hardworking and never afraid to take on new challenges. He is thoughtful and methodological, and I am not surprised about his performance at the Secure the Future competition.”

About the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Mercer University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences serves as the academic cornerstone of one of America’s oldest and most distinctive institutions of higher learning. The oldest and largest of Mercer’s 12 schools and colleges, it is a diverse and vibrant community, enrolling more than 1,900 students, dedicated to learning and service through the practice of intellectual curiosity, respectful dialogue and responsible citizenry. The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences offers majors in more than 30 areas of study, including more than a dozen pre-professional academic tracks, with classes taught by an outstanding faculty of scholars. In 2015, Mercer was awarded a chapter of The Phi Beta Kappa Society, the nation’s most prestigious academic honor society that recognizes exceptional achievement in the arts and sciences. For more information, visit