Gazebo Gazette

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 an Outstanding Computing State Educator and 9th-12th grade students at the Aspirations in Computing (AiC) Award Luncheon held at the Hattiesburg campus this month.

As part of an effort to encourage a diverse range of students to choose careers in technology, the awards recognize those who self-identify as women, genderqueer, or non-binary for their computing-related achievements and interests. The Educator Award identifies exemplary formal and informal educators who play a pivotal role in encouraging these students.

The event consisted of a luncheon and celebration of the accomplishments of the awardees who have demonstrated outstanding aptitude and aspirations in technology and computing. The category recipients included: 12 Winners, 2 Honorable Mentions, and a Rising Star.

One of these winners was Jillian LaRosa, from Long Beach High School.

“USM is honored to partner with the National Center for Women and Information Technology to recognize these rising stars in Mississippi,”said Dr. Sarah Lee, Director of the School of Computing Sciences and Computer Engineering. “Teachers are so important to the future of our state and we appreciate the work they do to inspire the next generation of technical talent.”

“These educators’ support goes a long way in motivating students to apply their creativity and unique perspectives as they learn computational skills. Students are often more likely to pursue computing education when they are encouraged by their educators and other adult influencers,” said NCWIT CEO and Co-founder Lucy Sanders.

A respected leader in the transportation industry, Willie Jones, served as the keynote speaker for the award celebration. Jones is the President and CEO of Dependable Source Corp., a Center for Community and Workforce Development that was founded in 2014 to deliver workforce solutions to the transportation industry.

NCWIT is the farthest-reaching network of change leaders focused on advancing innovation by correcting underrepresentation in computing. NCWIT convenes, equips, and unites nearly 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.