Troy High’s Kyra Deters is a cyber defender

FULLERTON – To Kyra Deters, there is good stress and bad stress.

The former – say, nervous energy over a test or a report – keeps her sharp, attentive. In competitions, Deters channels good stress into winning results.

The latter – typical teenage anxiety – triggers panic attacks and a rare condition that sentences her to bed for up to a week.

“My mental and physical health are intertwined,” said Deters, a senior at Troy High. “When I have a POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome) episode, I’m in bed for a week; I can’t get up, I can’t get out. It used to happen two times a month. Now they’re a lot less frequent.”

Deters’ syndrome, a condition for which there is no known cure, limits her mobility, causes nausea, dizziness and fatigue, and paralyzes her with joint pain. She visits a doctor four times a week, and uses a wheelchair to get around.

Her service dog, Elias, a 6-year-old yellow Labrador, can sense oncoming panic attacks and calms her down. By identifying anxiety early, Deters avoids a flare-up.

Mental and physical challenges abound, and yet, the 18-year-old, who also takes medication for a bipolar disorder, is the cyber security buff in a Troy program replete with savvy students.

“Computers in general give me freedom I wouldn’t otherwise have,” she said. “I have a lot of issues with walking, and when you can’t walk, there’s a lot of things you can’t do. But, with computers, you don’t need to walk.

“I’m just the same as everyone else on the Internet. I can do programming, watch videos. I see my laptop as my portal into the outside world, and that’s pretty cool.”

Deters has had social anxiety for as long as she can remember. Computers have always offered refuge from triggers, she said.

As a child, Deters played PC games and tinkered with computer settings. Before long, she began wondering how the machines work. As a freshman, she joined Troy’s Navy JROTC program to be part of Allen Stubblefield’s Information Security…

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