LEXINGTON, Ky., April 29, 2023 – The Kentucky affiliate of the National Center for Women & IT (NCWIT) , in partnership with KY NSF EPSCoR and the University of Kentucky, recognized the 2023 NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing (AiC) recipients at an Awards Bruncheon, honoring 11 high school students from 6 schools across Kentucky. Each year, U.S. high school students in grades 9 through 12 who self-identify as women, genderqueer, or non-binary are eligible to receive recognition for their aptitude and aspirations in technology and computing, as demonstrated by their computing experience, computing-related activities, leadership experience, tenacity in the face of barriers to access, and plans for post-secondary education. This year, 3 Kentuckians were selected for national recognition from more than 3,300 amazing applicants.
NCWIT AiC Kentucky Affiliate Coordinator and KY NSF EPSCoR Extension Specialist, Rosemary Fama, opened the ceremony at The Cornerstone by welcoming the 2023 awardees to the AiC Community, where they can connect to like-minded peers and mentors who are working to change the face of technology. She recognized this year’s awardees for breaking down stereotypes and bringing inspiration and pride to their community. This was followed by a prerecorded message from the Aspirations in Computing team at NCWIT based in Colorado.
The keynote presentation held in The Cornerstone Esports Theater titled “Cheat-Codes for Success in Higher Ed” featured KY NSF EPSCoR Co-PI Czarena Crofcheck, PhD, PE and Quinn Andrews, a senior in the UKY College of Engineering. The panel provided an opportunity for the 2023 UKY College of Engineering Tau Beta Pi Most Outstanding Professor (Crofcheck) and the 2023 UKY College of Engineering Lou Takacs Cooperative Education Award winner (Andrews), who just so happen to be mother and daughter, to share their favorite “cheat codes” for finding success in higher ed. They gave attendees tips on finding research opportunities as a freshman, advice on how to turn missteps into opportunities, and surprising places to find professional and personal support throughout your STEM career.
Following the awards presentation, guests were invited to enjoy gameplay in UKFCU Esports Lounge and attend a tour of the University of Kentucky College of Engineering campus from Director of Recruiting, Tony Jackson.
2023 Kentucky Awardees
NATIONAL HONORABLE MENTIONS
Ariel Fader, Larry A. Ryle High School, Class of 2024
Emma Bunch, Glasgow High School, Class of 2023
Sydney Dennis, Eminence High School, Class of 2023
KENTUCKY AFFILIATE WINNERS
Alexandra Perry, Ignite Institute, Class of 2023
Carolina Wheeler, Carol Martin Gatton Academy of Math and Science, Class of 2023
Flora Lin, Carol Martin Gatton Academy of Math and Science, Class of 2023
Sara Nath, Carol Martin Gatton Academy of Math and Science, Class of 2024
KENTUCKY AFFILIATE HONORABLE MENTIONS
Isabella Floyd, Madison Southern High School, Class of 2023
Megan Chmiel, Ignite Institute, Class of 2023
Shelby Scoville, Madison Southern High School, Class of 2023
KENTUCKY AFFILIATE RISING STAR
Arabella Ceralde, Eminence High School, Class of 2025
KENTUCKY VOLUNTEER AWARD
Sheri McGuffin, PhD, STEM Coordinator/AdvanceKentucky an Initiative of KY Science & Technology Corporation
During the ceremony KY NCWIT AiC volunteer and frequent KY NSF EPSCoR collaborator, Dr. Sheri McGuffin, was recognized with the 2023 Kentucky Affiliate Volunteer Award. A distinguished educator, Dr. McGuffin is a leading advocate for Computer Science education in Kentucky and plays a key role in recognizing and encouraging the next generation of technologists and their mentors. Through her service to the K-12 and higher education communities, Dr. McGuffin has demonstrated an exceptional commitment to and success in creating long-lasting systemic change that improves computing education across the Commonwealth, positively impacting thousands of students. She was recognized by the AiC Kentucky affiliate for her passion, time, and energy put towards supporting the NCWIT mission in Kentucky and being a critical part of the Aspirations in Computing community.
Since 2007, NCWIT has inducted more than 16,000 students into the Aspirations in Computing community and is helping to usher them into technology careers. Nearly 100 Kentucky students and educators have joined the community since 2014. The NCWIT Aspirations in Computing program is a talent development initiative designed to increase female participation in technology careers by providing encouragement, visibility, community, leadership opportunities, scholarships, and internships to aspiring technically inclined students. The NCWIT offers both national and local affiliate competitions to generate support and visibility for broader participation in communities nationwide. Kentucky awardees have gone on to pursue degrees in computing related fields at Harvard, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Georgia Tech, University of Kentucky, University of Louisville, among others. The NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing offers both a national and local affiliate competitions to generate support and visibility for women’s participation in communities nationwide. For information on the national program please visit www.aspirations.org.
Most past AiC award winners were explicitly encouraged to apply by an adult that they look up to. Do you know a high school or college student who aspires to create technology to improve the world? If so, fill this form and NCWIT will let them know you think they are a great candidate for this award. Applications for 2024 will open September 1, 2023. Please send questions about the Kentucky Affiliate to KY-Affiliate@aspirations.org.
NCWIT is the National Center for Women and Information Technology, a nationwide, non-profit community of more than 1,600 universities, companies, non-profits, and government organizations. The mission of NCWIT is to increase the influential and meaningful participation of girls and women — at the intersections of race/ethnicity, class, age, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability status, and other historically marginalized identities — in the field of computing, across the entire ecosystem from K-12 and higher education through industry and entrepreneurial careers. NCWIT unites change leaders and equips them with a library of research-based resources to create reform at every level. www.ncwit.org
The NCWIT Award for AiC is sponsored by Apple, Bank of America, Microsoft, and Shopify.