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Second Annual Minnesota Aspirations for Women in Computing Awards Announces 15 Minnesota High School Student Winners and Runners-Up

Four Minnesota students also named national runners-up; Wayzata High School teacher to receive national educator award

St. Paul, MN (February 5, 2014) - Advance IT Minnesota, the high-tech talent incubator run by the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system, today announced the names of 15 Minnesota high school students selected as winners and runners-up in the second annual Minnesota Aspirations for Women in Computing Awards. The awards program honors young women in grades 9 - 12 for their computing-related achievements and interests. Honorees represent the metro area, Rochester and East Grand Forks. Applications in the Minnesota awards program experienced a 30 percent spike over 2013.

Four Minnesota students, including two 2014 Minnesota winners and two 2013 winners, were also selected as national level runners-up through the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT). They placed in the top 15 percent of approximately 2,600 applicants from across the country. A Wayzata High School teacher was also selected to receive NCWIT's national educator award.

The NCWIT created the awards program in 2007 to encourage the computing aspirations of young women, introduce them to leadership opportunities in the field and generate visibility for women's participation in computing-related pursuits. Winners from across the state were selected based on their interests, accomplishments and community involvement in computing and technology, as well as for their aspirations in computing and technology-related fields.

"Following last year's successful debut, this year's awards program, supported by an impressive community of partners, inspired even more young women to become engaged," says Russell Fraenkel, director of Collaborative Programs and Outreach at Advance IT Minnesota. "Encouraging, supporting, and influencing female students to develop their tech talents during their middle and high school years is critical. And doing so sets the stage for them to become the next generation of leaders and innovators in a rapidly growing industry in dire need of diverse talent."

State winners will be awarded prizes including scholarships, tech devices, and job shadowing opportunities at Minnesota businesses during an April 29th event hosted at General Mills in Golden Valley. The state winners are:

* Katrina Kerrick from Plymouth; senior at Wayzata High School
* Erin Mitchell from Lakeville; senior at Lakeville High School (2013 Minnesota runner-up)
* Annelies Odermann from Wayzata; senior at Wayzata High School (2013 Minnesota runner-up and 2014 national runner-up)
* Maria Sanchez Lopez from St. Louis Park; senior at St. Louis Park Senior High School
* Preethiya Sekar from Rochester; senior at John Marshall High School
* Amanda Sullivan from Fridley; senior at Fridley Senior High School (and 2014 national runner-up)

Two additional young women were also named national runners-up. Because they were Minnesota winners last year, they did not qualify for this year's state competition. They include:

* Tarissa Jackson from Savage; senior at Burnsville Senior High School
* Ananya Mishra from Maple Grove; senior at Wayzata High School
The following Minnesota runners-up will also receive prizes and will be honored during the spring event:
* Darartu Gamada from Brooklyn Park; sophomore at Breck School
* Julia Joern from Edina; senior at Breck School
* Hana Keinan from New Hope; senior at Robbinsdale Cooper High School
* Christina Le from Eagan; senior at Eagan High School
* Anna Mueller from Savage; junior at Prior Lake High School
* Erin Olson from East Grand Forks; junior at East Grand Forks Senior High School
* Ariana Pooley from Plymouth; junior at Wayzata High School

Tika Kude, Wayzata High School computer science and engineering teacher, will also receive the NCWIT educator award. She was selected from among several hundred educators across the country who endorsed high school applicants for the NCWIT awards. Kude endorsed four winners from Minnesota, and was chosen for her commitment to actively working with high school girls, encouraging them to get involved in computer science by taking classes and joining after-school activities. Kude will receive a laptop provided by AT&T and Dell, and up to $1,000 reimbursement for computing-related professional development. She will also be honored during the April 29th event for all Minnesota award winners.

Despite holding six in 10 American jobs, women held just 26 percent of computing occupations in 2012. And of the 1.4 million expected openings for computer specialists in 2020, the current number of American graduates can fill only 30 percent. Advance IT Minnesota launched the Minnesota Aspirations for Women in Computing awards program to help bridge this gender and talent gap, and support, recognize and encourage young women in high school interested in computing and technology.

Advance IT Minnesota partnered with the following Minnesota organizations to offer the award: Cargill,, ESP-IT, General Mills, Marco, Maverick Software Consulting, Microsoft, The Nerdery, Pearson, PeopleNet, Securian, Sport Ngin, Symantec, TC Chapter of the Association of Women in Computing, Thomson Reuters, Unisys, Upper Midwest Security Alliance (UMSA) and ViaWest. For more information about sponsorship opportunities, contact

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About Advance IT Minnesota
Advance IT Minnesota engages employers, educators, technology professionals and learners to develop a more robust IT workforce in Minnesota. A Center of Excellence within the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, it is housed at the Metropolitan State University, Midway, St. Paul campus. For more information, visit

About National Center for Women & Information Technology
The National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) is a coalition of over 200 prominent corporations, academic institutions, government agencies, and non-profits working to increase women's participation in information technology (IT). To find out more, visit

Shelli Lissick
Bellmont Partners




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