At the 2019 Minnesota Aspirations in Computing (MNAiC) Awards ceremony held on April 17, we recognized 37 young women for their technology-related interests and achievements. Among these honorees was Amiyah Hunter, a State Winner and the sole National Winner from Minnesota!  Amiyah is a Roseville High School senior, Land O’Lakes intern, and upcoming University of Northwestern Saint Paul student whose experiences with technology have been greatly influenced by the Aspirations in Computing program.

In the upcoming fall semester, Amiyah will be attending the University of Northwestern Saint Paul with a full-ride scholarship from the Act Six Leadership Program. She plans to pursue a major in computer science with the goal to become a front-end website designer for major corporations. When she applied for the Act Six Leadership Program scholarship, Amiyah was aware of the competition she would face with 700 applicants and a rigorous three-phase selection process, but she did not let that stop her. She was one of only seven students selected by the University of Northwestern Saint Paul. We are not surprised - Amiyah is brilliant! Through the Act Six Leadership Program, she is participating in six months of leadership training, through which she is gaining leadership skills and connecting with her peers.

Amiyah discovered her love for technology when she joined the Girls Who Code program at the University of Minnesota in the eighth grade, which was not something she would have considered without encouragement from her mom. Lauren Hunter not only encouraged Amiyah to join the program, she consistently empowered her to get involved in the technology field. “I never took it seriously, because I always assumed my mom was overreacting because I could fix our TV or fix her iPhone when it wasn’t working,” Amiyah adds. “After joining the club, I completely fell in love with coding and immediately knew this was something I wanted to do in the future.” She later enrolled in an AP computer science course, learned HTML, Java and CSS, built a Homework Help website for students, and served as a Genesys Works Student Ambassador at Roseville Area High School. Outside of technology, Amiyah is passionate about social justice and African American studies and is the vice president of the African American Leadership Club.

The Aspirations in Computing program has provided Amiyah additional opportunities outside of her high school to explore her passion for technology and has set her up for success as she transitions to college and pursues a career in computing. “You get experiences that will impact you forever, and you also make awesome friends that participate in some of the same things you do,” Amiyah adds, “Being able to receive an internship out of it was out of this world!” Land O’Lakes has extended her internship through the summer, where she will be working with the website design team. “I am completely ecstatic because I love Land O’Lakes as a company and to also be a part of the website design team is an honor,” Amiyah says about her experience at Land O’Lakes. She began her internship as part of Genesys Works in August 2018.

Amiyah’s experience at Land O’Lakes proves hard work pays off. She started as a desktop technician, managing and reimaging computers at their headquarters (HQ). She also took the initiative to volunteer to work on the workplace strategy efforts, which consisted of gathering the tickets for broken monitors, workstations and conference rooms and troubleshooting the issues. Her manager was very impressed, as it was one of the most difficult jobs and no one else had volunteered to do that work. She excelled by being organized,properly fixing the issues and completing tickets. As a result of her great work, her manager assigned her to larger projects with more responsibilities, such as replacing computers between remote Land O’Lakes facilities and HQ. Amiyah was also promoted to the TechXpress technician role, providing Land O’Lakes employees face-to-face assistance troubleshooting issues with their devices.

As a National Winner, the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) flew Amiyah and her mom to North Carolina to attend the National NCWIT Aspirations in Computing recognition event. She participated in many activities which taught her more about the career possibilities in technology. At the end of the event was the awards ceremony, where she was awarded $500 and a brand-new MacBook Pro. Amiyah had an “amazing time” and is thankful for another memorable and valuable experience provided by the Aspirations in Computing program.

Amiyah’s advice to those who are considering applying for the Aspirations in Computing award or getting involved in computing-related activities is to “make friends and understand the impact you are making. Technology is impacting the world, and when I first started coding I just did it because it was fun for me. Then I realized that I am impacting the world in so many ways.”

Don’t forget to check out the other exclusive looks at the experiences of past MNAiC honorees. This year we have connected with Wayzata High School senior Caroline Zeng, 2018 Minnesota State Winner and National Honorable Mention, and Michigan Technology University freshman Fiona Chow, 2018 Minnesota State Honorable Mention and 2017 Certificate of Distinction recipient.

Amiyah flashes her endearing smile, as does  Aspirations Ceremony leader and General Mills employee, Devan Sayles.


ABOUT MINNESOTA ASPIRATIONS IN COMPUTING

The Minnesota Aspirations in Computing (MNAiC) Awards Program partners with the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) to inspire, empower, and honor young women of high school age for their computing-related achievements and interests. The program is supported by Minnesota State – IT Center of Excellence and numerous businesses and organizations. The powerful story of honoree accomplishments does not end at a recognition ceremony in April of each year, it’s just beginning! Over 300 young women who have been honored since the Minnesota Aspirations in Computing Program inception in 2012-2013, continue to pursue life-changing education and career opportunities, becoming accomplished practitioners and leaders in a variety of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields.