Senior wins national computing competition


By Nicki Resnikoff

Monica Chen ’10 won the 2010 National Center for Women and Information Technology Award for Aspirations in Computing. Chen was one of 33 National Winners selected from 150 semifinalists. More than 700 students applied for the award. For winning, Chen will receive a $500 award, a laptop and an engraved plaque for the school.

She will also travel to the Bank of America Technology Showcase and Awards Ceremony this week in Charlotte, N.C., courtesy of the competition’s sponsor, Bank of America. She will receive a crystal award along with the other prizes.

NCWIT recognizes accomplished women with this award as part of an initiative to promote female interest in careers in technology.

“Encouraging young women’s interest in technology careers is critical: our workforce needs their creativity and their innovation,” NCWIT CEO Lucy Sanders said.

According to the NCWIT’s publicity kit about the award, “Award winners are selected for their demonstrated, outstanding aptitude and interest in information technology/computing, solid leadership ability, good academic history, and plans for post-secondary education.”

Applicants must also be high school girls with a GPA of at least 3.0. Chen has not yet decided what she will major in when she starts at Columbia University this fall, but she “definitely will be studying in a science/technology field.”

Chen decided to apply for the award after computer science teacher Jacob Hazard told her about it and encouraged her to apply. She almost missed the deadline. The application, due in November, consisted of essays as well as a resume of the applicant’s skills and experience in programming.

Chen found out about her finalist status in mid-December.

“I didn’t expect to be a finalist,” she said. “I was surprised that I actually won.”

“Winning this award is a significant accomplishment,” NCWIT Director of Strategic Initiatives Ruthe Farmer said.