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Passion for computer science leads to State award

Passion for computer science leads to State award

Maria Pena Chavez received a Minnesota Aspirations in Computing Award (MNAiC) for her computing and information technology aptitude, leadership ability, academic history and plans for post-secondary education. A senior at Burnsville High School, she is one of only 18 students to be named a state winner. 

Maria will be recognized at a virtual awards ceremony on Wednesday, April 14. 

As a state winner, Maria will automatically be entered into the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) Aspirations Award competition. Additionally, award recipients are eligible for college scholarships, tech devices, cash awards, job shadowing opportunities and a paid summer information technology internship at a Minnesota company or organization. 

“Maria has the qualities of a true leader and a passion for the computer science field,” said Drahos. “Maria advocates for women in STEM education, specifically Hispanic women, by sharing a self-created, informative video about computer science. She is a curious student and asks clarifying questions in computer science class to better understand. Her communication and written skills stand out as being mature and intentional. Her strong academic history and commitment to computer science make her a perfect candidate for this award.”

The (NCWIT) offers an annual awards program, recognizing young women, genderqueer, and non-binary high school students for their technology interests, skills and accomplishments. Since 2013, Minnesota has been a state affiliate, allowing high school students in Minnesota the opportunity to be selected as national and/or state award recipients. 

Learn more about theNCWIT and their awards programs at