Students earn scholarships by exploring computers at an Indiana conference

March 2nd, 2012 | SMWC

Shelby Becker, SMWC senior majoring in biology and humanities, shared her experiences with computing in biostatistics and the sciences during the lightening talks.

Inspired by their passion for discovery and technology, ten students from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC) uncovered a gold mine of information at the Indiana Celebration of Women in Computing (InWIC) conference in Spencer, Ind., on Feb. 10-11, 2012. InWIC, offered to undergraduate and graduate students developing their skills in computer-related fields, is a more targeted version of the national Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing conference.

“Women are underrepresented in technology so it is often difficult to find female role models and mentors,” said Lana Lytle, associate professor of information systems at SMWC. “This Indiana conference lets our students connect with other STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] students, faculty and business managers in the state.”

Students participated in lightening talks, keynote addresses, seminars about cutting-edge technology and poster contests. Two SMWC students, Samantha Morrison, majoring in computer information systems, and Diana Hernandez, majoring in business administration, caught the judges’ eyes during the non-research poster competition. The duo earned first place for their poster chronicling the College’s newest technology club, S.A.I.N.T.

Morrison, president of the club, said the award, including a monetary prize, was an unexpected success that added to the excitement of the conference. The S.A.I.N.T. club, which stands for students actively investigating new technology, recently received a $500 seed grand from the National Center for Women in Information Technology. Open to students of all majors, this club allows women to probe technology through activities, workshops and conferences.

“SMWC prepares students for a life immersed in technology,” said Janet Clark, Ph.D., SMWC’s vice president for academic affairs. “It affects how we perform our jobs, live our daily lives and it continues to rapidly change. We are committed to equipping our students with the skills to not only utilize technology, but to think creatively about new applications within their discipline or career. Experiences such as the S.A.I.N.T. club foster those interactions.”

SMWC students, with Lana Lytle, associate professor of information systems, spent two days in Spencer, Ind., connecting with female computing professionals.

During the two-day conference, the students stayed overnight at the Canyon Inn in McCormick’s Creek State Park. They engaged with other students interested in computer fields, met experts with innovative ideas and caught a glimpse of their future during the conference’s career fair. Eight SMWC students won scholarships from Microsoft and the Anita Borg Institute for participating in the poster contests and lightening talks, including:

  • Anna Bailey, freshman, humanities, from Caledonia, Mich.
  • Shelby Becker, senior, biology and humanities, from Indianapolis, Ind.
  • Rosemary Suzette Corrie, junior, business administration, from Greencastle, Ind.
  • Diana Hernandez, senior, business administration, from Frankfurt, Ind.
  • Carly Hollings, freshman, equine training/instruction and CIS, from Fishers, Ind.
  • Samantha Morrison, sophomore, CIS, Indianapolis, Ind.
  • Josephine Nieto, freshman, CIS, from Fort Wayne, Ind.
  • Katherine Williams, senior, CIS and digital media, from Rome, Ind.

While these students gained monetary rewards for their participation, the value of this experience goes much deeper than a bank account. “The positive and friendly mood of the conference can truly excite even the youngest student about a career in technology,” Lytle explained. “The ‘we can do it’ attitude energizes me every time I attend and gives our students an empowering experience.”

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