Some of you may already be familiar with Amiyah Hunter. She was Minnesota's sole 2019 National Aspirations in Computing Winner (top 40 in nation) as well as one of last year’s State Award winners. Amiyah is experiencing her freshman year at the University of Northwestern St. Paul, majoring in computer science and currently works as a help desk associate at the University of Minnesota.
On Monday, March 2nd, Amiyah took a welcome break from her busy college life to put the finishing touch on Black History Month and kickstart Women History Month with a great discussion about the important role diversity and inclusion plays in gaining equity in tech for women and underrepresented people.
Similar to myself, Amiyah was encouraged by an adult in her life (for her, it was her mom — thank goodness for moms) to apply for the Aspirations in Computing Award and didn’t think she would win. So it was a huge surprise and confidence booster for her when she became a National and State Winner! We each were able to share our experiences of support from the Aspirations community. Amiyah said she feels that although her high school gave her the opportunity to explore computer science as a hobby, the Aspirations community showed her how computer science could lead to a career, through experiential learning opportunities like an internship at Land O'Lakes and mentorship from a community of women who are doing cool things in tech!
Now that Amiyah is in her freshman year in college and living away from home, she shared some new things she’s learned — but still relying on her mom for advice (again, thank goodness for moms). Don’t worry Amiyah, we’ve all been there (I definitely still am there)! She’s making friends, staying on top of her studies, and recently got an online mentor. Check out the video link (above) for my talk with Amiyah!
We also gushed about some of the influential women in Amiyah’s life, and reflected on Katherine Johnson’s impact on science and the space program, specifically for women and women of color. She is an inspiration to Amiyah and me! Hidden Figures (both the book and the movie) were great at portraying the struggles and successes of being a minority in the STEM field. If you have any free time, I encourage you to check them out. Like I said, I like the movie, and LOVED the book.
As I stated earlier, Amiyah spent the past summer interning at Land O’Lakes, an internship she obtained through the Aspirations community. She loved it there, the people, environment, especially the food and listed them as one of the top three companies that she would be interested in working for as a front end developer after she graduates. When I asked about her plans for this summer, she is hoping for an internship at Lyft.
One of the best perks of being recognized by the Minnesota Aspiration in Computing Award Program, is that I get to learn about all of the incredible things that other honorees are doing in their classrooms, communities, and with program partners. Trust me, I was not nearly as cool or accomplished in high school as last year’s and this year’s honorees. They inspire me, and I certainly admire them more than I believe they should admire me! I can’t wait to celebrate the accomplishments and aspirations of the 2020 Award Honorees next month, April 15th!
Make sure you connect with Amiyah in the Aspirations IT Connect Community. Feel free to ask me or Amiyah any questions you may have.
Amiyah, thanks again for helping us start the year on an energetic note! Subscribe to the Minnesota Aspirations in Computing YouTube Channel to watch the Live Chat with Amiyah.
Don’t forget to check your emails in March for the announcements of the National and State Aspirations in Computing Award Winners!
ABOUT ALUMNAE STORIES
This syndicated Instagram series gives program participants and other young women in high school the opportunity to connect with alumnae at various stages of their journey as #womenintech. The series will also occasionally feature program partners and participants who exemplify MNAiC mission, goals and values. Join the Aspirations IT Connect Community to stay connected to Alumnae and current program participants!
ABOUT MINNESOTA ASPIRATIONS IN COMPUTING
The Minnesota Aspirations in Computing (MNAiC) Awards Program partners with the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) to inspire, empower, and honor young women of high school age for their computing-related achievements and interests. The program is supported by the Minnesota State IT Center of Excellence and numerous businesses and organizations. The powerful story of honoree accomplishments does not end at a recognition ceremony in April of each year, it’s just the beginning! Over 400 young women who have been honored since the Minnesota Aspirations in Computing Program inception in 2012-2013 continue to pursue life-changing education and career opportunities, becoming accomplished practitioners and leaders in a variety of Science Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields.