Two students from Valley View High School in Moreno Valley, California, and their teacher have been awarded the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) Awards for Aspirations in Computing (AiC). The awards recognize high school students for their achievements and interests in computing-related fields, with the aim of encouraging a diverse range of students to choose careers in technology.
Maddison Chau and Alexa Torres were the student recipients of the awards, with Chau earning the Regional Winner NCWIT Award and Torres receiving the Regional Rising Star NCWIT Award. Meanwhile, their teacher, Jeanine Rioux, earned the Regional Educator Winner award.
More than 3,300 applicants from across Canada and the US, including Guam and Puerto Rico, applied for the awards, that’s what makes the achievement of Chau, Torres, and Rioux all the more impressive. The recipients were chosen based on their abilities and ambitions in technology and computing. This was demonstrated by their computing experience, computing-related activities, leadership experience, tenacity in the face of barriers to access, and plans for post-secondary education.
Valley View High School Superintendent Dr. Martinrex Kedziora expressed his pride in the students and their teacher, saying, “These awards are a testament to Ms. Rioux’s impact on our students and their future careers in computer science and technology. Maddison and Alexa are shining examples of what our students are capable of and are leading the way for others to follow a similar path.”
Torres shared that her interest in technology began at a young age when she watched her brother take apart and rebuild computers. Torres aspires to attend UC San Diego and become a software engineer. She says, “Computer science and the other classes involving computers that I have taken have helped me realize what my goal in life is. I want to be able to create things that would be beneficial to others or simply make their lives a bit better.”
Chau, on the other hand, was honored for her involvement in Valley View’s Computer Science Honor Society and community-based technological projects. Her most notable engineering project is a C++ algorithm that integrates an Arduino Uno in recording speech, recognizing distinct phrases, and outputting a related LED display. Her aim is to create technologies that aid marginalized groups in healthcare.
Each recipient of the NCWIT Awards for Aspirations in Computing will receive recognition and prizes, as well as access to resources, scholarships, and internship opportunities. Moreover, they will be inducted into the AiC Community of over 22,000 women, genderqueer, or non-binary technologists.
NCWIT CEO and Co-founder Lucy Sanders expressed the importance of encouraging all students’ interest in technology careers, saying, “Our workforce needs their creativity and unique perspectives to produce technology that is as broad and innovative as the population it serves.”
Valley View High School Board President Susan Smith expressed her delight in the students’ achievements, stating, “Valley View High School offers unique programs for our students to explore computer science as a potential career field. We will continue to support these programs and look forward to the continued growth and success.”
NCWIT is a network of change leaders working to correct underrepresentation in computing. The organization brings together more than 1,500 change leader organizations across the US to increase the participation of girls and women in computing, particularly in terms of innovation and development.