The 2023 Minnesota Aspirations in Computing National Award Honorees

The 2023 Minnesota Aspirations in Computing National Award Honorees

The Minnesota Aspirations in Computing Awards (MNAiC) program is proud to announce the 2023 class of honorees, selected from high schools throughout Minnesota by national and state review teams.

Family, friends, educators, business partners and sponsors will gather to celebrate the award recipients at a ceremony in April.

Honorees are featured in local and statewide media and are eligible for a range of prizes including mentoring / job shadowing experiences, paid summer internships, cash rewards, swag, and trophies.

Honorees also receive access to exclusive resources provided by the National Center of Women and Information Technology (NCWIT).

Minnesota Affiliate Award for aspirations in computing



Fatuma Abdi

Senior, Edison High School, Minneapolis

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Fatuma is a 2023 National Honorable Mention recipient and a State Winner.

She was a State Honorable Mention recipient in 2022.

In the summer of 2022 Fatuma had the opportunity to work at Securian Financial as an Engineering Analyst Intern; her responsibilities included updating and refactoring code and pair-programming to create new features using JavaScipt and React. She became involved in STEM through exposure to robotics but began programming after joining Black Data Processing Associates (BDPA). She competed in two National BDPA High School Coding Competitions and was a member from eighth-grade up until her junior year of high school. Her junior year of BDPA consisted of working on developing a mobile app using Android Studio. She was the team lead for other students making their own apps. Her app was intended to promote small local businesses to combat the effect that COVID-19 had on them. She recently transitioned to creating websites to give businesses in her community an online presence. Fatuma ran a Youtube Channel in ninth and tenth grade and produced cooking videos targeted towards the East African immigrant communities. Currently, Fatuma is a high school student enrolled as a PSEO student at the University of Minnesota, and she plans on majoring in bioengineering and data science. She took part in a UMN neuroscience summer program and became interested in the applications of programming and data science in the context of human healthcare.


Jasmitha Allu

Junior, Wayzata High School

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Jasmitha is a National Honorable Mention Recipient and a State Winner.

Her passion for computer science and technology started at a young age. This early interest was cemented when she participated in a Technovation competition in middle school and created her first app. This experience gave Jasmitha a glimpse into the limitless possibilities of technology and programming, and she was immediately intrigued. Determined to continue learning and growing in this field, Jasmitha enrolled in a high school engineering concepts class, where she quickly made a name for herself as a quick learner and dependable student. Jasmitha’s creativity and problem-solving skills were evident in this class, especially when she broke the previous record for the maximum weight a civil engineering popsicle stick bridge could hold. She displayed knowledge of various aspects of bridge design, including shape, materials, means of support, distance spanned, terrain, function, and exposure. Building on her success in the engineering concepts class, Jasmitha decided to take her studies to the next level and enrolled in intermediate computer programming and AP Computer Science. Despite being the only girl in the computer science class, Jasmitha never let this discourage her. Instead, she embraced the challenge and worked even harder. Jasmitha plans to pursue a major in computer science and use her expertise to make a positive impact in the tech industry.


Stavya Arora

Senior, Maple Grove Senior High School

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Stavya is a National Honorable Mention recipient.

She was a State Winner and State Honorable Mention in previous years.

Stavya is a math and robotics enthusiast with a deep passion for research. As part of University of Minnesota’s Talented Youth Math Program (UMTYMP) Stavya completed all college level math by 10th grade. She placed in the top 5 percentile in the American Mathematics Contest AMC10 and AMC12 and was invited to take the prestigious AIME test. Stavya is a captain of her school’s FIRST Robotics program and leads a girls mentor program called the Crimson GEARs (Girls in Engineering and RoboticS). This program inspires and encourages girls to participate and stay active in STEM related activities. Stavya is a National Merit Finalist and also placed first in the state for the Health Informatics and Creative Problem Solving competitions held by Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA). Currently, Stavya is heavily involved in research at University of Minnesota focused on opioid addiction recovery in online communities. For her research work, she was recognized as a Regeneron Science Talent Search (STS) 2023 Scholar. These scholars are chosen based on their outstanding research and exceptional promise as STEM leaders. Stavya also enjoys volunteering at her local temple, listening to music and hanging out with friends. She plans to pursue a degree in Computer Science in college with a focus on artificial intelligence and machine learning.


Ishana Didwania

Junior, Mahtomedi High School

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Ishana is a National Honorable Mention recipient and a State Winner.

She was a State Honorable Mention in 2022.

Ishana began programming in 6th grade at a 5-year computer science program in St. Paul, where she studied HTML/CSS, Javascript, PHP, MySQL, Python, and Java. She created projects related to her Indian heritage, such as Project ABCD and cryptoquote puzzles about Indian figures. Since 2021, she has volunteer taught an Intro to Web Development class on Saturday mornings that covers HTML, CSS, and Bootstrap. She plans each lesson, grades assignments during the week, and teaches the class on Saturday mornings. The students are in 6th grade and learn to code an interactive website about India. She has completed over 70 volunteer hours per year in this role. In 2022, she began a paid Teaching Assistant position for an online python class, where student fees are used to build libraries in India. As a TA, she grades assignments, holds weekly help sessions to assist students with homework, and helps the teacher with other tasks. Around 30 libraries will be built in India through this program. Ishana also likes to challenge herself with difficult AP and CIS math and science classes at school. She is the co-president of her school band and a Minnesota All State band flute player. Her extracurriculars have inspired her to pursue a career in computer science with a focus in education, hoping to become a teacher or professor one day.


Jasmine Garry

Junior, Eden Prairie High School

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Jasmine is a National Honorable Mention and State Winner for 2023.

She was also a State Honorable Mention recipient in 2022.

She is a self-motivated entrepreneur who exposes elementary school students to STEM. Jasmine’s online learning organization called CREATE tutoring offers free tutoring sessions for any K-6 student who wants to expand their knowledge in STEM. Running an organization has taught her how to manage tutors, leverage multiple social media platforms, and engage a community through various events and workshops. Additionally, she enjoys leading weekly lessons for girls interested in building apps. Jasmine wants to pursue a major in Computer Science. She hopes to find meaningful work within the tech industry to help her gain experience while working towards her degrees, to help launch her career, and ultimately venture into the tech start-up arena.


Siona Kaura

Junior, Eden Prairie High School

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Siona is a State Winner and a National Honorable Mention recipient.

She has been coding since elementary school, where she learned to code on Hopscotch and Scratch. In highschool, Siona has taken many computer science courses, her favorite being AP Java. She’s currently advancing programming skills in her school’s iOS App Development class. Outside of school, Siona attended UPenn’s Data Analytics Summer Camp, where she used Python to collect, analyze, and visualize data, and developed a love for data science. She also attended the University of Michigan’s Joy of Coding camp in 2022, where she learned more about Python and its applications. Her experiences with technology have shown her how powerful it can be as a solution to real problems. Earlier this year, she started volunteering for the South Asian Women’s Network, a nonprofit. As their digital marketing associate, Siona helps with website development, event marketing, and other initiatives to raise awareness. Her work inspired her to develop a service, AmplifiedMN, providing digital development services to other non-profit organizations. Siona is also working on creating a web-based platform, CycleConnect, that promotes biking as a fun and healthy activity for highschoolers. Siona is a captain on her school’s debate team, and she’s also part of the speech team, DECA, varsity alpine skiing team, and track and field. In the future, she plans on pursuing data science and economics.


Karen Nakamura

Senior, Math and Science Academy, Woodbury

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Karen is a State Winner and a National Honorable Mention recipient. 

She was also a 2022 State Honorable Mention recipient.

Karen was first introduced to programming through a Python course offered at her school, which sparked her curiosity in the intersection of computing and life sciences. With a desire to deepen her knowledge, Karen took advanced courses in computing and Java and applied computational tools to her biomedical research projects, which earned her a spot as an International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) Finalist. She is continuously expanding her expertise through studies in statistics, SQL, and data analysis. Karen is also an active member of her community, serving as an Outreach Officer for the SWENext club and a captain for both Cross country and Nordic skiing teams. In addition, she is a 2023 National Merit Finalist and holds a leadership role as the Vice President of the National Honor Society. She aspires to contribute to the field of neuro-technology by conducting cutting-edge research and developing innovative solutions that have the potential to revolutionize our understanding of the brain.


Romy (Elizabeth) Peterson

Senior, Breck School, Golden Valley

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Romy is a National Honorable Mention recipient and State winner.

Her interest in STEM was sparked by her first trip to the Bakken Museum at the age of 6 while watching electricity bring Frankenstein to life. But it was the Bakkenspiel that introduced her how to combine her love for music with computer coding that made her want to pursue STEM. In Middle School, she explored how to address environmental issues by building a portable water filter for developing countries. The following year, she tested the growth rate of bacteria in different materials commonly used in reusable water bottles.In high school, she had the opportunity to work at the University of Minnesota in the Department of Integrative Biology and Physiology, analyzing a computational model of the protein that causes Alzheimer’s Disease when overactive in the brain. This work led to her being recognized with the American Chemical Society Award, Society of In Vitro Biology Award, and being named first alternate to the International Science and Engineering Fair at the state science fair. This experience solidified her interest to explore the intersection of computer coding in the medical arena. The pandemic allowed her to share her STEM passion with grade school kids. She led the Young Inventors Club, a program that helped elementary students develop their own invention while learning about the scientific method. Outside of school, she leads her basketball team as varsity captain and plays the bass guitar.


Alexandra Rimbu

Senior, Highland Park Senior High School, St. Paul

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Alexandra is a National Honorable Mention recipient in 2023.

In 2022, she was a State Winner.

Alexandra has been interested in computer science from a young age. She first began coding in Scratch, where she created simple animations, and fell in love with computers. She participated in Technovation while in middle school and won a regional award with her team when they created a carpooling app that aimed to combat global warming. In high school she took IB level computer science classes and learned to program in Java and Python. As part of the IB curriculum she also had the opportunity to write a software project, a well-being program for corporate business employees to log their healthy habits and earn points for a discount on insurance. In 2020 Alexandra took a Harvard EdX computer science course over the summer, which she successfully completed. In 2021 she completed an internship at the UMN working with spatial databases. The focus of the project was using bucket-dwell times to look at time spent at POIs (points of interest) pre-COVID versus post-COVID. Alexandra would like to have a career in software engineering, working on projects related to current issues. She will pursue computer science at the UMN next year.


Zoke Sackih

Junior, Mounds View High School

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Zoke Sackih is a National Honorable Mention recipient.

Her love for science was born through watching the Marvel movie, Ant-Man. Zoke was fascinated by the topics of particle physics that were discussed in the film. She started doing more research into physics, and this brought her into the greater world of STEM. Eventually, she navigated into the world of computer science and coding. In the 9th grade, she joined a club called Technovation Girls MN. Technovation is a worldwide initiative that challenges girls to solve a problem in their community by building an app.That year, with no previous experience, she built an application with her peers. She was so amazed and inspired by the experience that in 10th grade she did Technovation again, enrolled in AP Computer Science A, and joined her high school’s FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) team. Through all these experiences she kept building her skills, and the following summer, she got the privilege to work as an intern at Datasite. She joined the cloud team and expanded her knowledge of programming. In three months, Zoke learned Python and learned to utilize API’s. In addition, she learned about Docker and built a Command Line Interface to help her team. In the current 2022-2023 school year, Zoke has continued with Technovation and robotics. In the future, Zoke aspires to be an astrophysicist and study all the crazy phenomena she was introduced to when she sat down and watched Ant-Man for the first time.

Meet All of the 2023 Minnesota Aspirations in Computing Award Honorees


National Honorable Mention Awards (Above)

State Winners

State Honorable Mention Awards

Rising Star Honorees

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