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Pine-Richland seniors show that women are making their mark in tech | TribLIVE.com
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Pine-Richland seniors show that women are making their mark in tech

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Claire Casalnova
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Amanda Labuda

Two Pine-Richland High School seniors have been recognized nationally for their computer science skills.

The National Center for Women & Information Technology’s Aspirations in Computing program awarded an honorable mention to Amanda Labuda and a certificate of distinction to Claire Casalnova.

“I was pretty excited about it,” said Casalnova, 18, of Richland. “I’ve always loved problem solving, and that’s a big part of computing.”

NCWIT recognized the two women’s skills out of more than 3,500 applicants from across the nation. Its Aspirations in Computing award program — chartered by the National Science Foundation in 2004 — honors high school women who are accomplished in computing and technology classes and are planning to pursue the field in post-secondary education.

“This is a huge honor, and I hope you are as proud and inspired as we are,” said Terina-Jasmine Alladin, NCWIT Aspirations Regional Affiliate Manager and Community Manager, in a Pine-Richland High School press release.

Pine-Richland Computer Science teacher Valerie Klosky nominated Labuda and Casalnova.

“Their skills have developed exponentially over the last two years,” Klosky said. “I’ve had each of them in class, and to my knowledge they didn’t have much experience in computer programming until they took Visual Basic last year. Now they’re in the College in High School program at Pine-Richland. Just this year they’ve earned seven credits through the University of Pittsburgh’s computer science [program].”

The students have taken Visual Basic, Java, Advanced Computer Science and Computer Aided Drafting.

Klosky said she’s happy that such an award program exists because having women in the field is “critical.”

Only 25 percent of the mathematicians and computer scientists in the U.S. workforce are women, according to an article titled “Women in Tech: The Missing Demographic,” published in the Harvard Political Review this month.

“The women in computer science at Pine-Richland High School is starting to rise, which I think is awesome,” Klosky said.

Casalnova agrees that she is seeing more women in her classes this year.

“Last year in my Java programming class, I was the only girl,” she said. “That really opened my eyes to how few women were actually pursuing technology.”

Casalnova will be pursuing computer science at the Rochester Institute of Technology next year.

Labuda is currently on an academic trip in France.

Ashley Murray is a Tribune-Review contributor.

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