The National Center for Women and Information Technology offers an annual awards program to recognize students for their technology interests, skills and accomplishments. This year, two Minnetonka High School seniors have been honored at the state level with Minnesota Aspirations in Computing (MNAiC) Awards.
Catherine Borisova ‘21 was named a MNAiC state winner for Minnesota. She was one of 18 students to earn this award.
Catherine’s interest in tech and computing began when she took a middle school computer science course with MMW teacher Lisa Reed. “I remember coding a website and a video game, and spending hours outside of school working on it because I really enjoyed the projects. I enjoyed knowing I could create nearly anything just with a series of words,” said Catherine.
Coding also helped her to express her creativity. “As someone who was never good at art or music, I was able to be creative when designing my website or my game. After taking that class, I knew that I had a strong interest in STEM and computer science, and throughout high school I went on to join the robotics team, take more computer science classes, get a job at Code Ninjas and an internship at Qrona Technologies,” Catherine explained.
She was nominated by Nick Bahr, a computer science instructor at MHS. “Catherine is an excellent candidate for the MNAiC award because of her constant and ongoing work in the field of computer science,” shared Mr. Bahr. “She has volunteered in numerous roles around the twin cities, helping younger students get involved in CS, has participated in hackathons, and has helped tons of her peers in the clubs she participates in.”
Next year, Catherine plans to attend the University of Minnesota, where she will study computer science and technology management. “I still do not know what career path I would like to take, but for now I am considering software development, cybersecurity, data analysis or AI/Machine Learning,” she shared.
Maya Moy ‘21 received a MNAiC Certificate of Distinction. She was one of 43 students in the state to earn this award.
Maya’s family was her first encouragement to get involved with computer science. “My family was my big inspiration, since my dad works as an engineer and my sister went into computer science,” she said. “They definitely exposed me to tech and computing and encouraged me to pursue any interest I had. As I've done other activities like robotics or taking computer science classes I've grown more sure of my interest.”
She was nominated by Katie Hessen, one of the coaches with MHS Robotics. “Maya has been involved with the MHS Robotics Team, Chicken Bot Pie, throughout her time at MHS,” shared Ms. Hessen. “It has always been a joy to have her on the team and I am excited to see what she accomplishes next!”
All MNAiC award recipients become part of a network of computer science students and professionals who work together to support each other. “For me, receiving the award means an opportunity to join the [Aspirations in Computing] community and build connections with other people who have similar interests,” said Maya.
When looking ahead, Maya sees herself in a STEM career. “I am planning to study something related to engineering or computer science in college, though I haven't narrowed it down to a specific major yet,” she shared.
Mr. Bahr shared more about the impact MNAiC awards can have for students. “The MNAiC program is a great opportunity for individuals to be recognized and celebrated based on their work in computing and information technology,” he said. “In addition to winning scholarships and building connections to employers and prizes, winning this award can be a life-transforming experience. Students are able to build meaningful connections with their peers as well as professionals who are currently involved in the [computer science and information technology] professions.”
Congratulations, Catherine and Maya!