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College Sends Seven Students to Grace Hopper Celebration

The College of Engineering sent seven computer science and information technology students to the 2019 Grace Hopper Celebration, which is the largest gathering of female technologists in the world.

Sophie Nedelco and Paul Orton

MU Engineering students Sophie Nedelco and Paul Orton take a selfie at the Grace Hopper Celebration in Orlando.

The conference had over 28,000 attendees and was held Oct. 1 to Oct. 4 in Orlando, Florida.

The seven students, Omiya Hassan, Carter Landis, Sophie Nedelco, Paul Orton, Samira Shamsir, Samantha Sample and Jasmine Tan, held a panel discussion last Friday to share their experiences at the conference as part of Women in Engineering Week.

A recognition of women in STEM, the Grace Hopper Celebration encourages students to continue pursuing their goals with a slogan of “I will and we will” emphasizing the importance of empowerment and collaboration.

With sessions on computing skills, professional development and tackling disparities in tech, the conference gave students the opportunity to learn and connect with other women in their field.

All the students had shared feelings of inspiration, empowerment and determination when asked about their takeaways from the conference.

Sophie Nedelco, a senior computer science major, found being surrounded by a “sea of women” to be particularly inspiring.

“I don’t get to see a lot of women in computing and engineering in general,” she said. “So being able to be surrounded by not only a lot of women that are interested in tech, but also who are at the top and who are in executive positions, was really empowering for me.”

Grace Hopper also has one of the largest career fairs in the nation for attendees to network and build relationships with recruiters from academia, industry and government with the possibility of landing internships or even full-time jobs.

Samantha Sample, a junior in computer science, received an internship offer with Datadog and will be taking next semester off to intern with them in New York.

This was Sample’s second time at the conference, but she left feeling just as empowered as the first time.

“My favorite part about Grace Hopper was being able to be around so many like-minded people and so many inspirational leaders in technology who also happen to be women,” she said. “It’s also really inspiring to be able to see other girls like me who are just getting into tech, who are maybe even struggling, but they’re still working through it, and they’re still persevering.”

The conference is open to anyone and Nedelco encourages students to attend no matter their gender because inequality affects everyone in engineering.

“It was awesome to see men who were interested in becoming allies,” she said. “You also need people who are already in the industry to make room to make space and to prioritize women’s voices.”

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