Two Gatton Academy Students Receive National Recognition From The NCWIT For Aspirations in Computing
- Cheryl Kirby-Stokes
- Wednesday, February 5th, 2020
Two students at The Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science have received national recognition for their achievements in computing. First-year Gatton Academy student Mina Ryumae (Larry A. Ryle High School) of Union and second-year student Sierra Wyllie (Henry Clay High School) of Lexington both received Honorable Mentions in the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) Awards for Aspirations in Computing (AiC).
Wyllie and Ryumae were on the shortlist of this year’s 400 national recipients. Over 4,700 applications were received.
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 the NCWIT AiC received applications from 48 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and all U.S. overseas military bases, including two Gatton Academy students.
AiC addresses barriers in women’s participation in computing. The NCWIT states, “technology too often has a culture of invisibility, otherness, self-doubt, and closed doors. AiC program elements turn barriers into possibilities by offering exclusive awards, scholarships, internships, and community—building women’s leadership, technical, and entrepreneurial skills.”
Wyllie has been involved in computer science research at Western Kentucky University’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences over the last two years where she is mentored by Dr. Michael Galloway and Ismail Abumufouz. She was a summer 2019 recipient of a Gatton Research Internship Grant for her research in network security.
“With computer science and artificial intelligence, we can now solve problems with super-human accuracy. It is exciting to be a part of the development and future of this technology,” Wyllie stated. “The recognition from NCWIT allows me to connect with both peers and professionals via the AiC community, which will prove invaluable as I become increasingly involved with computing. It also provides scholarship and internship opportunities, which will assist my transition from the classroom into industry.”
Ryumae is a student researcher in the WKU School of Engineering and Applied Sciences with mentorship from Dr. Uta Ziegler. She has also been a student researcher at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in IT Data Storage in the past.
“Ever since I joined FIRST Robotics in kindergarten, I realized I had the logical mind and passion for coding that would continue. I love that there are always many different ways you can approach a question and there are always workable solutions. Computer Science affects almost everything these days. I want to be part of the impact by being able to develop software or applications that affect people around the world,” Ryumae stated. “Competing in NCWIT is an incredible opportunity to network with my like-minded peers from around the nation, but also with business professionals and other influencers in the field. It has given me the chance to be a part of the movement towards encouraging more women to pursue fields historically dominated by men.”
For more information about The Gatton Academy, visit www.wku.edu/academy or call (270) 745-6565.
About NCWIT: NCWIT is a non-profit community that convenes, equips, and unites more than 1,100 change leader organizations to increase the influence and meaningful participation of girls and women from every community — at the intersections of race, ethnicity, class, age, sexual orientation, and disability status — in the influential field of computing, particularly in terms of innovation and development.
About The Gatton Academy: Established in 2007, The Gatton Academy is Kentucky’s first residential two-year program for gifted and talented junior and seniors. The Gatton Academy’s students enroll as juniors and are full-time WKU students pursuing their interests in advanced science, technology, engineering and mathematical careers. The Gatton Academy has been named to Jay Mathews’ list of top-performing schools with elite students, marking the tenth consecutive appearance.