Five LaRue County High School students are recipients of National Center for Women and Information Technology awards.
Those students include senior Sarah Cooper, sophomores Jada Hunter-Hays and Katherine Massie, and freshmen Audrey Engle and Giselle Adams.
The NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing honors young women at the high school level for their computing-related achievements and interests.
Award recipients are selected based on their aptitude and aspirations in technology and computing as demonstrated by their computing experience, computing-related activities, leadership experience, tenacity in the face of barriers to access, and plans for post-secondary education.
Cooper and Hunter-Hays are two of approximately 360 students nationwide who received the 2019 National Honorable Mention. Both are also 2019 Kentucky Affiliate Award winners. Cooper was also a 2018 Kentucky Affiliate Honorable Mention. Massie is a 2019 Kentucky Affiliate Honorable Mention. Engle and Adams were named 2019 Rising Stars.
National Honorable Mention winners are high achieving students selected to represent the diversity of the applicant pool, including affiliate representation, geographies, race/ethnicity, socio-economic status and experience.
Affiliate Award winners have significantly demonstrated interest and aptitude for computing. Many award winners have applied in prior years and demonstrated a progression in their computing skills and experiences; some have built leadership through teaching computing classes, leading clubs or teams, participated as a technology or lab assistant, or have a track record of pursuing extra-curricular computing activities.
Rising Stars represent students who are starting out in their pursuit and study of computing. They have expressed curiosity and interest in computing but may have relatively limited experience with technology. Students in this category embody the idea of aspirations and are recognized in order to encourage their continuation in the field.
Cooper is a member of the National Honors Society, the Student Technology Leadership Program (STLP), and VEX Robotics. She is the first co-president of LaRue County High School’s Student Technology Leadership Program.
Throughout her high school career, she has taken all honors, advanced placement, and duel credit classes offered. She also is very active within the community and state. She has served as song leader for four years and Primary Sunday School teacher at Friendship Baptist Church Number Two. She volunteers weekly at Sunrise Manor Nursing Home, helping the Quality of Life Department by assisting with stimulating group activities and outings with the residents to engage them during their stay.
In 2016, Cooper started the first technology program that teaches Sunrise Manor elders the basics of technology through the use of Amazon Fire tablets. Cooper and a group of students connected residents to social media, games, and audio books sponsored by the LaRue County Library.
In 2017, Cooper created Operation Education, the first donation exchange to help raise and donate school supplies. In 2018-2019, she created Innovative Females in Technology. IFIT is the first all-girl program in the state of Kentucky.
Last fall, Hodgenville Elementary School’s fourth and fifth grade girls were taught the basics of coding, simple machinery, robotics, and programming. This semester, Abraham Lincoln Elementary’s fourth and fifth grade girls are following the same curriculum.
Cooper also reaches out to the Louisville community as an English teacher for immigrant families that seek help in expanding their English skills at the Iroquois Public Library. She intends to use her advanced skills this fall as she attends Eastern Kentucky University to study forensic science. Her aspiration is to attend Texas State University to become a medical examiner.
Jada Hunter-Hays, a co-leader of IFIT, is on the Kentucky Girl’s STEM(science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) Collaborative Teen Board where she helps bring awareness to STEM opportunities present for girls in the state. She is knowledgeable in programming and web design. Her plans include dual majoring in computer software and hardware engineering in college.
Katherine Massie is a member of every technology-based club her school offers--IFIT, STLP, and VEX Robotics. She is also a member of her school’s academic team. She enjoys digital art, writing, and co-leading IFIT. After high school, she plans to attend college and earn a degree in general engineering.
Audrey Engle is a participant in many technological programs. She plans to attend a college close to her family and study forensic psychology.
Giselle Adams has been in the Student Technology Leadership Program for five years and looks forward to branching out to other things like VEX Robotics, coding, web and game design. She plans on expanding her knowledge in the technology career field in college. In the meantime, she wants to learn coding as well as web and game design.