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Conard Student Wins National ‘Aspirations in Computing’ Award

AiC National Award winner Megan Goulet (center) with Conard computer science teachers (from left) Jackie Corricelli, Tony Truss, Holly Ruiz, and Noah Mealy. Courtesy photo

Megan Goulet, a senior at Conard High School, is the first-ever West Hartford Public Schools student to win this national award, and two other students and teacher Jackie Corricelli were also honored by the National Center for Women and Information Technology.

By Ronni Newton

Conard High School senior Megan Goulet will represent not only her school and the Town of West Hartford, but the entire state of Connecticut when she travels to North Carolina in April to celebrate receiving the Aspirations in Computing (AiC) award from the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT).

Goulet is one of 40 winners nationwide and the only winner from the state to be chosen as a National Awardee. The 40 winners were chosen from among 4,300 submissions. Of the 360 who received honorable mentions, only 11 were from Connecticut.

“Students who receive this honor are a member of a network that will help them reach their aspirations starting from the moment they accept this award and continuing into their college and career. AiC Community members are supported by this network and get exclusive access to scholarships, internships, and professional work as a result,” said Conard computer science teacher Jackie Corricelli.

“This is a great, great honor,” Superintendent of School Tom Moore said at Tuesday night’s Board of Education meeting.

The award includes a cash prize of $500, and Goulet very much appreciates that as well as being part of the NCWIT support group, and while she is proud of the recognition, “I believe the award is less important than what has led to my receiving it, such as my involvement in computer science I have gained, the leadership skills I have developed, and the friends I have made throughout my high school journey,” she said. “My experiences shape who I am as a person, and this award is a nice complement to my knowledge and devotion to computer science and community service.”

Goulet said that she definitely plans to study computer science in college, obtaining a bachelor’s or even a master’s degree in the field. It’s been her passion since she joined the Technology Student Association at Sedgwick Middle School as a sixth-grader.

“I am not sure where I will attend college, but I have completed my college applications and wish to view the school results with a holistic approach, such as the quality of education, personal fit, and financial ability. After college, I want to specialize in software development, although I feel I would be happy in any computer science related job.”

Goulet credits her family and many others with contributing to her success, including her high school teachers and particularly her computer science teachers – who include Corricelli, Holly Ruiz, Noah Mealy, and Tony Truss – “for an excellent high school education, for encouraging me to pursue my passion for computer science, for helping me find resources I needed to extend my knowledge of computer science, and for supporting me throughout my high school years.”

Sedgwick technology education teacher Ms. Lucas helped her find her passion and gain early leadership skills, Goulet said.

“I would also like to thank all who make computer science education available to every student, as well as those that offer programs that extend beyond the classroom, especially Ms. Lake, a developer of the Mobile CSP course and the Mobile Apps for Hartford internship program,” Goulet said.

Everyone should be encouraged to take at least one computer science course in high school or college – regardless of their planned field of study, Goulet said.

“In a world largely dominated by technology, computer science is becoming more and more prevalent in society. Technical literacy is just as important as math and English, and everybody can benefit from a computer science course, regardless of their intended major,” Goulet said. “Many students do not take computer science because of the rigor of the field. Although learning how to program can be tough, it is very well worth their time, and it is a very rewarding field to go into.” It’s helpful to business owners who want to develop their own websites, artists who are interested in graphic design, and for statisticians can learn to develop software to organize their data.

In addition to Goulet winning the State of Connecticut Award and being named a National Awardee, two other students have been honored by the NCWIT.

Conard senior Izabella Natchev was named a state finalist, and Conard junior Helen Nguyen received honorable mention for Connecticut.

Corricelli won honorable mention for the Educator Award for the State of Connecticut, and plans to use the money associated with her award to support Conard’s computer science program.

All state awardees will be honored at a reception at Dunkin Donuts Park on April 9.

“We are so proud of each of these honorees,” Corricelli said of her students. “Please extend your congratulations to them!”

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AiC state finalist Izzy Natchev (second from right) with Conard computer science teachers (from left) Jackie Corricelli, Tony Truss, and Noah Mealy. Courtesy photo

Helen Nguyen, center (AiC state honorable mention), with Conard computer science teachers Jackie Corricelli and Noah Mealy. Courtesy photo

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