Local Student Wins National “Aspirations in Computing” Award
Phoenixville resident Athena Kao, a senior at the public cyber school Commonwealth Connections Academy (CCA), recently became a recipient of the Aspirations in Computing Award from the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT).
Kao applied for the award by filling out an application citing her achievements in technology and with computers over the past several years.
Kao said that she is most proud of her team winning second nationally and first in the state in the 2011-2012 Real World Design Challenge. She explained that she uses the computer and computing technology on a daily basis for learning, research, communication and art creation.
“I began making animations and music videos to share with the world through YouTube more than four years ago,” said Kao. “So far, I have posted over 85 videos with nearly 5.6 million views in total and have over 26,000 subscribers worldwide.”
Sponsored by Bank of America, the Aspirations in Computing Award is part of an NCWIT talent development program that encourages young women to succeed in technology.
Despite their advances in academia and the workforce, women are disproportionally underrepresented in computing fields. Women hold only 25 percent of all technology occupations, earn 18 percent of all bachelor’s degrees in computing, and represent just 19 percent of all Advanced Placement (AP) Computer Science test-takers.
Kao hopes that awards like this will inspire women to start changing those statistics. “I am very glad to have a chance to demonstrate that women can do as well as men do in the field of science and technology, ” she said.
After graduating from CCA this spring, Kao hopes to major in computer science at a college of her choice and aspires to someday start her own business.
The 35 winners were selected from more than 1,800 applications from all 50 states, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and overseas U.S. military bases. Each winner will receive $500 cash, a laptop computer, an engraved award for both her and her school, and mentoring opportunities with Bank of America employees. The winners will be honored with a ceremony at Bank of America’s headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina, on March 9, 2013.