MADISON, S.D., April 20, 2017 – “Believe in yourself,” is simple advice, yet it is sometimes hard to do, said South Dakota’s governor Dennis Daugaard.
“The biggest challenge we all have is believing that we can accomplish something when others doubt us and when we may doubt ourselves,” he stated.
Daugaard’s remarks were made at Dakota State University during the 2017 NCWIT (National Center for Women in IT) Award Ceremony held on campus April 12, where 17 high school women from North and South Dakota and two South Dakota technology teachers were honored with the NCWIT Aspirations in Computing (AiC) award.
Among the honorees was Janae Hahn of Dell Rapids High School, who was a Local Winner. She is planning a career in electrical engineering, math and statistics. Bergen Weiland of Dell Rapids High School was a Local Honorable Mention awardee. She is planning a career in artificial intelligence and robotics. Students were selected on the basis of their aptitude and aspirations in technology and computing, leadership ability, academic history, and plans for post-secondary education.
“We know that a sense of belonging is a key persistence factor for young women who chose computing degrees and careers,” said NCWIT CEO and Co-founder Lucy Sanders. “Not only do these awards increase the visibility of young technical women and their educators, they also grant entry into an inclusive community of peers that support each other in advancing their innovative dreams.”
AiC provides a long-term community for female technologists by encouraging persistence in computing through continuous engagement and ongoing encouragement at each pivotal stage of their educational and professional development. This is the 11th season of the Award for Aspirations in Computing (AiC), and the 6th year with regional affiliates. The South and North Dakota region honored eight winners at their first event in 2013.
To date, AiC has publicly recognized nearly 4,700 young women for their interests and achievements in technology. Seventy-one percent of those are now in college, pursuing a computer science or engineering degree. More than 150 educators have been recognized through AiC as well. Lori Goldade, district technology coordinator at Warner School District, was this year’s teacher award winner; Amber Fluth, business computer teacher at Tri-Valley, was the runner-up.
Daugaard encouraged the high school women to consider careers in computing, because the work they could do is important. In 2016, there were 1.6 million attacks on the South Dakota state government, he stated, so “we need people like you to help defend our state, defend our businesses and our nation against attackers like this.”
He also asked the girls to consider Dakota State for their academic degrees, calling the school a cyber leader in America. “It’s an excellent institution of higher learning,” he said.
“We want all of our students to experience the world as it’s going to be through the use and application of emerging and available technologies — a distinguishing feature of this institution,” said DSU President José-Marie Griffiths.
Alexis Perez, an analyst with Facebook, was another special guest at the ceremony, teaching the winners about Python coding with a hands-on project. Presenters included the NCWIT Regional Program Director Ammi Ludwick, and Dakota State University faculty Dr. Ashley Podhradsky, Pam Rowland and Dr. Kyle Cronin.
Sponsoring partners for this event were Dakota State University, AiC, National Center for Women and Information Technology, and DSU’s Center of Excellence in Computer Information Systems. Also assisting was DSU’s new CybHER outreach program, a movement to add more gender diversity to the field of cybersecurity through a variety of events and interactions.
Dakota State University is a public university located in Madison, South Dakota, part of the State of South Dakota Regental system of specialized schools and universities. Founded in 1881 as a teacher’s college, it maintains that heritage mission, while also carrying out its signature mission of technology-infused and technology-intensive degrees. The university offers both undergraduate (Associate and Baccalaureate) and graduate degrees (Masters and Doctorate). It has grown rapidly in national recognition as a technology-forward school, and has significant partnerships with the U.S. National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security, among others, for DSU’s cyber security-related programs. For more information, please contact Jane Utecht, Strategic Communications Coordinator at email@example.com, 605-256-5027. The DSU website is http://www.dsu.edu.