On Wednesday, April 4th, two representatives from Hood College in the Computer Science unit came to Walkersville High School to present the Grace Hopper Essay Award. Around 20 applicants applied, but there were only two winners, junior Ryan Puthumana and sophomore Morgan Carter.
“We started an essay contest about two months ago, in honor of Grace Hopper, (who may not be an alum of Hood), but is a true pioneer in the field of computer science..” said Chair of Computer Science in the unit of Hood College, and Dr. George Dimitoglou, who has been teaching at Hood for 14 years. He continued, “Hopper spoke at Hood many times, and she even has an honorary doctorate from Hood. She is a worldwide role model in computer science.”
The students were asked to create an essay on her achievements in life by researching her life. “They had to provide a good insight of admirable Grace Hopper,” said Dimitoglou.
The winners of the contest not only won a certificate of achievement, but also a mini drone and a small health tracker wristband. The 18 others who participated, won a certificate of participation and external hard drives and “other nerdy stuff” added Dimitoglou.
“This event is great for getting students involved; it’s a mix of English and computer science. Plus, you learn the background of a famous woman in computer science,” said Doctorate in Computer Science Carol Jim, who has been teaching at Hood for six years.
“We need more women in computer science; it’s still lopsided to this day,” said Jim. Reflecting on her feelings on the lack of females in her field, she commented “It’s different, and sometimes can be really difficult, but it’s been very welcoming.” She added, “(Females) should not be afraid! It’s not as intimidating as you think.”
Jim’s true love for computer science has shined through, when she switched her math major and love for math to computer science in college. “It helped because I had a background in math and had a true application of mathematics in high school. I discovered that there were different areas of computer science like artificial intelligence and computer architecture!” said Jim.
Carter expressed her overwhelming excitement with a huge smiling face, when finding out that she won. “I’m so surprised! I just wrote the essay for extra credit, but I also adore English. I’m actually not that big on computer science. It’s just not my thing.” Carter added, “I had a great time writing the essay.”
Puthumana also expressed excitement winning the award, “I wasn’t expecting it, but I loved reading about inspiring Grace Hopper.”