Mississippi Educators and High School Students Recognized for Aspirations in Computing
Thu, 03/30/2023 - 09:19am | By: Ivonne Kawas
Pictured left: USM's Dr. Sarah Lee (left) with the 2023 Educator Award Winner, Jacqueline Lewis. Pictured right: Dr. Lee and Honorable Mention awardee, Cam Ogletree.
The University of Southern Mississippi's (USM) School of Computing Sciences and Computer Engineering and the National Center for Women and Information (NCWIT) - Mississippi Affiliate, recognized State Educators and 9th-12th grade students at the Aspirations in Computing (AiC) Award Luncheon held at the Hattiesburg campus this month.
The awards recognize 9th-12th grade women, genderqueer, and non-binary students for their computing-related achievements and interests, as part of an effort to encourage a diverse range of students to choose careers in technology. The Educator Award identifies exemplary formal and informal educators who play a pivotal role in encouraging these students.
Award recipients were selected from more than 3,300 applicants from all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, U.S. overseas military bases, and Canada. The recipients in Mississippi included: 6 Winners, 2 Honorable Mentions, and a Rising Star, along with the 2 Educator Awards.
“We are proud of the students who received this prestigious award,” said Dr. Sarah Lee, director of the School of Computing Sciences and Computer Engineering. “USM is committed to providing programs like Aspirations in Computing to broaden and engage more Mississippi students with computing—recognizing the value of computing and technology skills to students’ future success.”
The event featured a keynote speaker, Rimika Banerjee from UC Berkeley, and a celebratory luncheon to honor the accomplishments of the awardees.
Mississippi’s AiC 2023 Educator Award Winner, Jacqueline Lewis from Enterprise High School (EHS) in Clarke County, was honored for playing a role in encouraging students to explore their interests in computing, coding, robotics, and mathematics. Additionally, Cam Ogletree, from Madison Central High School in the Madison County School District, was selected as the honorable mention.
Lewis, a strong advocate of recruiting women to STEM careers, is now completing her 17th year as a mathematics teacher. Prior to becoming a teacher, Lewis enjoyed a 17-year career in VLSI Design Automation and telecommunications software design.
In 2018, she brought AP Computer Science courses to EHS and has been growing the program (and specifically growing the percentage of female students) every year. In 2022 she chartered an EHS robotics team as part of the First Robotics FTC League and has built such a strong interest in that program that EHS will have 3 separate robotics teams in the 23-24 school year. Her teams are 50% female.
Lewis serves on the Mississippi Teacher Advisory Council and the Mississippi Computer Science Education Strategic Planning Team. She is a frequent speaker at math conferences and most recently presented "Visualizing DeMorgan's Theorem with Logic Gates" at the National CSTA Conference in Chicago. She is currently serving in her 4th year as an AP Computer Science Training Facilitator for Mississippi State University and Code.org.
Each recipient will receive recognition and prizes; induction into the AiC Community of more than 22,000 women, genderqueer, or non-binary technologists; access to resources, scholarships, and internship opportunities; and more.
The recipients for the 2023 NCWIT-Mississippi AiC Awards are:
Shreya Sinha | Madison Central High School
Micah Hill | Laurel High School
Ava Noe | Mississippi School for Math and Science
Makiya Wilson | Brookhaven High School
Danielle McConnell | Mississippi School for Math and Science
Elise Jackson | Oxford High School
Kendall Curry | Northwest Rankin High School
O’Jahnae Sanders | Gulfport High School
Katie Notbohm | Madison Central High School
About NCWIT Aspirations in Computing
NCWIT is the farthest-reaching network of change leaders focused on advancing innovation by correcting underrepresentation in computing. NCWIT convenes, equips, and unites more than 1,500 change leader organizations nationwide 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, particularly in terms of innovation and development. Find out more at their website.