37 Young Women Named Recipients of the 7th Annual Minnesota Aspirations in Computing Awards

ST. PAUL, MINN (March 25, 2019) – This year marks the seventh year of an impactful partnership between the Minnesota Aspirations in Computing (MNAiC) and the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT). Through this partnership and with the support of the Minnesota State IT Center of Excellence and numerous community partners, MNAiC is celebrating a 26% increase of student participation in its skill building and engagement programs.  The programs are intentionally designed to inspire and empower young women at the high school level to pursue technology education and career opportunities.


Today, Director of IT Career Pathways and Partnerships at the Minnesota State IT Center of Excellence, Russell Fraenkel, announces that 37 top honorees will be recognized at the 7th Annual Minnesota Aspirations in Computing Award ceremony on April 17th —  “We are so proud to shine a spotlight on these incredible women, to celebrate their accomplishments, and introduce them to a community that is excited to support their next education and career steps.”   


According to recent Bureau of Labor Statistics, the percentage of women pursuing computer and information science degrees is below 20%, a trend that has been declining for 30 years. This trend impacts the representation of women, especially women of color in computing occupations; ultimately stymieing technology innovation, growth, and performance. The Award for Aspirations in Computing (AiC) was created to acknowledge and cultivate the technology interests of young women, introduce them to leadership opportunities, and generate visibility for women’s participation in computing-related pursuits in an effort to address these troubling trends.


Over the past seven years, more than 300 young women from Minnesota high schools have been recognized for their technical skills and interests, and well over 2,000 have participated in Aspirations supported programs.  What they all share in common is the desire to develop and utilize technology to solve a host of community and social issues.


Aside from the Annual Awards Ceremony, MNAiC leads multiple initiatives throughout the year  to connect students and young women to a supportive community of tech professionals and resources.  Among their key strategies are the #MNGirlsDisruptTech, Strength In Numbers, the Where Are They Now series, SPARCS year-round activities and Rising Stars, this year’s new addition to the program.  


Additionally, 20 Rising Star and 45 Certificate of Distinction Honorees have been selected for their demonstrated engagement in a mixture of technology education and leadership experiences, showing strong promise to realize success pursuing a technology education and career path. These complementary initiatives are also a direct pipeline to the Aspirations in Computing awards program just like the program is a direct workforce recruiting pipeline for Minnesota businesses. Learn more.


Among those achieving top honors and recognition at this year’s Minnesota Aspirations in Computing Award Ceremony are:

Afiya Ward (Central High School, St. Paul)

Anjali Donthi (Century Senior High School, Rochester)

Abigail Rohy (Convent of the Visitation School, Mendota Heights)

Nora Dixon, Grace Hansen, Anusha Sharma, Corinn Sievwright, Prapthi Sirrkay (Eagan High School)

Anita Chetty (East Ridge High School, Woodbury)

Poorva Halbe, Avni Jain (Eden Prairie High School)

Grace Bowe, Annie Snyder, Quinn Cowing (Edina High School)

Olivia Yang (Fridley High School)

Anindita Rajamani (Highland Park High School, St. Paul)

Amal Yusuf (Irondale High School, New Brighton)

Julie Wojtiw-Quo (Lake Of The Woods High School)

Anna Carow, Anna Marie Mitchell (Lakeville North High School)

Zoe Berg (Lakeville South High School)

Stuti Arora, Sahana Vandayar (Maple Grove Senior High School)

Grace Su (Mounds View High School)

Olivia Alberts, Lara Erdmann, Shaza Hussein, Shayla Lunn (Rosemount High School)

Amiyah Hunter (Roseville Area High School)

Mary Ghebremeskal (South High School, Minneapolis)

Isabella Kemling, Ava Kian, Izzie Mack, Rachel Springer (Southwest High School, Minneapolis)

Lucy Kuo, Katie Liu, Preeti Pidatala (Wayzata High School)


Honorees will receive an award package which includes: participation in the prestigious awards ceremony on April 17, special company gifts, cash prizes, and job shadowing opportunities. Nine honorees will earn the grand prize; a paid summer information technology internship at program sponsor companies – SPS Commerce, Land O’Lakes, Trimble, and HelpSystems.


Special thanks to Champion Partner Target, and Pillar Partners, Land O’Lakes, Maverick Software Consulting, SPS Commerce, and Upper Midwest Security Alliance, for their generous financial contributions. Visit the Minnesota Aspirations in Computing page to see and appreciate the “Strength in Numbers” support provided by an impressive coalition of Minnesota businesses and organizations.


For more information, contact Russell Fraenkel, MN Aspirations Committee, at (651) 253-9438 or russell.fraenkel@metrostate.edu.

Minnesota Aspirations in Computing Partners

Anita Borg – Twin Cities, Code42, Collective.ly Digital, College of St. Scholastica, Cray, General Mills, HelpSystems, Information Systems Security Association, Land O’Lakes, Legacy Armour, Maverick Software, Merrill Corporation, Metropolitan State – Institute for Professional Development, Microsoft, Minnesota Computers for Schools, Minnesota High Tech Association – Women Leading in Technology, Minnesota State IT Center of Excellence, Minnesota STEM Partnership, Minnesota Twins, Nerdery, Prime Therapeutics, SPS Commerce, STEM Fuse, Stoneridge Software, Target, Thomson Reuters, Twin Cities Chapter of the Association of Women in Computing, Unisys, Upper Midwest Security Alliance, and Veritas Technologies. You can become an impactful partner too!  To find out how, visit Sponsor Aspirations Awards.

About National Center for Women & Information Technology

The National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) is a non-profit community of more than 1,100 universities, companies, non-profits, and government organizations nationwide working to increase girls’ and women’s meaningful participation in computing. NCWIT equips change leaders with resources for taking action in recruiting, retaining, and advancing women from K–12 and higher education through industry and entrepreneurial careers. To find out more, visit www.ncwit.org.

About MN State — IT Center of Excellence

Formerly known as Advance IT Minnesota, the IT Center of Excellence engages employers, educators, technology professionals and learners to develop a more robust IT workforce in Minnesota. A Center of Excellence within the Colleges and Universities of Minnesota State (formerly MnSCU), it is located at Metropolitan State University, St. Paul Midway campus. For more information, visit mnstateitcoe.org.