HELENA – High school students from around Montana were recognized Saturday for their skills and interest in computing and technology. It’s part of a national program to expand opportunities for women in technological fields.
The National Center for Women and Information Technology, or NCWIT, presented the 2019 Awards for Aspirations in Computing, in an event at Carroll College. 13 girls in Montana were named as award winners, while four more received honorable mentions and another three got national certificates of distinction.
During Saturday’s award presentation, the students heard from women currently working in careers in technology.
Award winners were chosen for their interest and aptitude in computing and technology, along with their leadership skills and academic record.
Alyson Rake, a junior at Helena High School, said winning the award gave her a boost in confidence. She encouraged other girls to try STEM subjects themselves.
“Even if you don’t think you’re going to be good at it, even if it seems like the complete opposite direction of what you think you want to do, just give it a try,” she said. “Because you’re going to meet a network of fantastic people and amazing teachers and other people who are just awesome and will support you through anything, even if you don’t do STEM.”
Isabelle Melton, a Capital High School senior, was also a winner last year.
“I would just advise doing what you’re passionate about, and don’t be afraid to pursue what you’re passionate about – even though you may feel there’s a boundary or a challenge associated with it,” she said. “Just always go out there, experiment, try new things, and try and succeed.”
Michael Poser of Hobson High School was also recognized as NCWIT’s Montana educator of the year. Helena High’s Buffy Smith, who has been named educator of the year several times before, received an honorable mention.
Carroll College computer science professor Steve Harper, who helps oversee the Montana contest, said Smith has also been honored as a national NCWIT educator of the year for 2019 – the first time a Montana educator has received that recognition.
2019 Montana Award for Aspirations in Computing Winners:
Josie Baggett, junior, Hamilton High School
Jenna Bingham, senior, Helena High School
Samielle Connerton, senior, Hobson High School
Lauren Good, senior, Great Falls High School
Lauren Helbling, senior, Capital High School
Elizabeth Hickey, sophomore, Hobson High School
Sophie Hiltner, sophomore, Red Lodge High School
Tally Humphrey, senior, Billings West High School
Isabelle Melton, senior, Capital High School
Alyson Rake, junior, Helena High School
Bailee Sjostrom, junior, Sentinel High School
Madison Wiegand, senior, Simms High School
Nicole Williams, senior, Seeley-Swan High School
Brice Curry, senior, Sentinel High School
Diane Lipka, senior, Flathead High School
Laurel Maronick, first-year, Helena High School
Audrey Senecal, senior, Helena High School
National Certificates of Distinction:
Jean Blackman, senior, Cascade High School
Sonja Severtson, senior, Helena High School
Mackenzie Wiegand, senior, Simms High School