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March 6, 2013
By Philip Gruenwald, media relations assistant
Dominieke Neasham, a student at Northwest Missouri State University’s Missouri Academy of Science, Mathematics and Computing, is one of 15 students recognized as a 2012-2013 winner of the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) Award for Aspirations in Computing for Missouri and Kansas.
“She has the heart for computer science, and certainly the talent,” Missouri Academy Dean Dr. Cleo Samudzi said of Neasham. “She’s one that I would be happy to have as the face of the Missouri Academy. She is evidence that when you invest in students, the impact can be huge.”
In addition, Ashley Huskey, a Missouri Academy second-year student, was one of 15 runner-ups in the states of Missouri and Kansas.
Neasham was selected from a large pool of applicants and chosen for her aptitude, Missouri Academy education, academic record and interest in computer science, which she hopes to nurture as an undergraduate student at Northwest next fall.
“I already know all of the teachers I will be involved with next year,” Neasham, a second-year Missouri Academy student from Napoleon, said. “Most of them know my name. I don’t think I could find that anywhere else.”
Neasham plans to earn a degree in interactive digital media: computer science with a minor in math. She said she is grateful for the individualized attention she received from Dr. Carol Spradling, associate professor of computer science and information systems, who helped her apply for the NCWIT award.
Spradling said she is glad to welcome another high-caliber student to the Computer Science and Information Systems, especially because of Neasham’s unique qualities as a woman, who are underrepresented in the computer science field
“In a class of 30 students, we’re happy when we have three females,” Spradling said. “It’s not a field that’s really well represented by women, so the fact that NCWIT did this to recognize high school students is a way to inspire them and encourage them to go on.”
As a woman preparing to enter the computing field with internships, awards and an education at the Missouri Academy and Northwest, Neasham will stand out to prospective employers. Still, she acknowledges the difficulties of being a minority.
“It’s a challenge because you’re looked down upon at times,” Neasham said. “Men don’t always think you can do as well as they could, but I do, so it doesn’t really bother me.”
Neasham appreciates the growing nature of computer science, and looks forward to working near her home in Kansas City at cutting-edge companies. One such company is Cerner, where she was one of four Missouri Academy students to complete an internship last summer. She also enjoys the challenge of coding and software design.
“The math-based, logical aspect of computer science is what I like about it,” Neasham said. “I like trying to figure out a code, like a puzzle.”
Computer science classes are required in Missouri Academy curriculum. Eighty percent of Missouri Academy graduates work in fields related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, and Neasham hopes to contribute to that figure.
Located on the Northwest campus, the Missouri Academy is a two-year residential, early-entrance-to-college program for academically talented and highly motivated high school students. Graduates of the program earn an associate of science degree as well as a high school diploma.
Students selected to enroll in the program have completed 10th grade at traditional high schools, and the Missouri Academy program replaces their junior and senior years of high school. All of the curriculum consists of college coursework taught by professors at Northwest. Missouri Academy students sit side-by-side in classrooms with traditional university students, and professors have the same high expectations for these students as they do for traditional university students.
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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