The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) School of Computing Sciences and Computer Engineering and the National Center for Women and Information (NCWIT) – Mississippi Affiliate, recognized 9th-12th grade students at the Aspirations in Computing (AiC) Award celebration held April 9 on the USM campus.
As part of an effort to encourage a diverse range of students to choose careers in technology, the students recognized self-identify as women, genderqueer, or non-binary for their computing-related achievements and interests.
The event consisted of a luncheon and celebration of the accomplishments of 16 awardees from across the state for 2021 and 28 for 2020, who have demonstrated outstanding aptitude and aspirations in technology and computing. Categories included: Winners, Honorable Mentions, and Rising Stars.
“We are honored to recognize these emerging leaders at USM and look forward to watching them grow into the technology leaders of tomorrow,” said Sarah Lee, director of the School of Computing Sciences and Computer Engineering.
Each recipient receives recognition and prizes; induction into the AiC Community of nearly 20,000 technical individuals; access to resources, scholarships, and internship opportunities; and more.
The ceremony also recognized Mississippi’s AiC 2021 Educator Award Winner, Cindy Thomas from Choctaw Central High School, and AiC Educator Honorable Mention recipient, Kristi Jernigan from Louisville High School.
The NCWIT AiC Educator Award, which honored one hundred fifty educators from 48 states, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam, identifies exemplary educators who play a pivotal role in encouraging students. The award recognizes these educators for their efforts to promote gender equity in computing.
Thomas, a computing teacher for over 20 years, is currently teaching the STEM class at Choctaw Central High School and serving students in the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians. At Neshoba Central, Thomas was student services coordinator for special populations and the career and technical point of contact for the Mississippi Department of Education.
Kristi Jernigan, a technology discovery and STEM instructor at Louisville High School since 2004, is currently teaching the Project Lead the Way (PLTW)-Intro to Engineering course for 9th and 10th grade students. Jernigan is the advisor for two student organizations, Technology Student Association (TSA) and LHS Robotics.
“These educators’ support goes a long way in motivating students to apply their creativity and unique perspectives as they learn computational skills. Students are often more likely to pursue computing education when they are encouraged by their educators and other adult influencers,” said NCWIT CEO and Co-founder Lucy Sanders.
Special guests for the award celebration included Rian Walker, Assistant Vice President and Information Security Analyst, Bank of America and Bridget Quinn, NCWIT Aspirations Regional Affiliate Manager.
2021 Award Recipients
The recipients for the 2021 NCWIT-Mississippi for the AiC Award include:
• Addison Robertson, Millport, AL.
• Amanda Zhou, Memphis, TN
• April Guo-Yue, Starkville, MS
• Bridget Foster, Mobile, AL
• Charity Doster, Louisville, MS
• Haley Hill, Louisville, MS
• Jessica Yan, Starkville, MS
• Jimilia Harris Columbus, MS
• Kaidence Marshall, Philadelphia, MS
• Kristin Jernigan, Louisville, MS
• Memorie Willis Philadelphia, MS
• Micah Hill, Laurel, MS
• Paige Floyd, Pascagoula, MS
• Taylor McMillan, Philadelphia, MS
• Tebit Gang, Hernando, MS
• Tori Williams, Moss Point, MS
For the 2020 Awardees listing, visit the Aspirations in Computing website: aspirations.org.