We've always known our RePublic scholars are superstars who are capable of changing the world, but in the 2018, other organizations are taking notice. Today we celebrate the recent successes of several of our exceptional female scholars.
Juniors Princess D. and Monasia H. won the 2017-2018 Aspirations in Computing (AiC) Award for Central and East Tennessee, while sophomore Miracle A. won honorable mention. The award, bestowed by the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT), honors high school women who are active and interested in computing and technology, and encourages them to pursue their Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM)-related passions. Award recipients have opportunities to learn through computing-related activities, to network at virtual and in-person meetups, to receive recognition for technical achievements, and to grow their leadership and entrepreneurial skills by pioneering computing outreach programs in their local communities. Additionally, awardees gain exclusive access to scholarships, internships, and job opportunities.
As award winners, Princess, Monasia, and Miracle are among a selective group of female scholars in the state of Tennessee to be acknowledged for their achievements in computer science. To be competitive for an NCWIT AiC award, students must demonstrate a record of success in high school courses, a commitment to STEM-related activities, and a strong desire to pursue a career in technology. For example, Princess and Monasia both passed the AP Computer Science principles exam last year as 10th-graders. Additionally, Monasia's Computer Science teacher challenged her to develop a conjugation study app that the Latin teachers at RePublic High School could use as another learning tool in their classes. Within a few days, she had developed a prototype and eagerly asked her computer science teachers questions that pushed their coding knowledge and expertise. This is just one example of these ladies’ exceptional accomplishments and of our scholars' resiliency and curiosity.
This resiliency and curiosity is critical considering that girls are more likely to pursue and persist in computer science when encouraged by a teacher who believes in their ability. In fact, Miracle still speaks fondly of her Nashville Prep middle school computer teacher, Ms. Arth. Their current computer science teacher, Ms. Butt, has the privilege of supporting the girls' burgeoning interest in computer science: "When it comes time to build and create, they each have the confidence to run with their own ideas and see their projects through to the end." These young women each possess the innate desire to constantly improve and solve problems on their own. At RePublic High School, the computer science team is committed to a strong 9-12 curriculum arc that highlights personalized learning and allows students to autonomously improve their computer science skills.
What does this award mean for Princess, Monasia, and Miracle's futures? The RePublic family is fully confident that these young women will use their coding skills for the betterment of their communities. Computer science is changing how we solve problems. However, without the lived experiences of female voices in the field, and especially those of women of color, we are missing out on opportunities to create inclusive technology applications derived from diverse perspectives and approaches. By exposing more girls to computer science, we accelerate the number and quality of creative solutions to pressing social challenges.
Princess, Monasia, and Miracle are trailblazing opportunities for other high school girls to follow in their footsteps and are laying the groundwork for a strong computer science program at the secondary level. Receiving the NCWIT recognition will not only prepare them to compete at the national level next year, but perhaps more importantly, encourage them to pursue additional STEM opportunities in their future. Their achievements are indicative of their ability to compete with their peers and change the gender narrative in computer science and STEM careers.
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