The Minnesota Aspirations in Computing Awards (MnAiC) program is excited to announce the honorees for the 2024 awards. National and state review teams selected these students from multiple high schools across Minnesota. We are proud to recognize and celebrate 40 top-tier honorees and 33 rising star recipients this year. Since 2012 the program has impacted thousands of Minnesota students with over 900 being selected as award honorees. Now in it’s 12th year, MnAiC offers year-round programs and activities to inspire and empower high school students who identify as women, genderqueer, or non-binary to realize their computing-related education and career aspirations.

Explore our lineup of award recipients below and consider supporting Aspirations in Computing.

National Award Winner

Jasmine Garry – Senior, Eden Prairie High School

Jasmine is a National Winner. She was a 2023 National Honorable Mention recipient and State Winner and a 2022 State Honorable Mention recipient and National AspireIT Impact Winner. Jasmine is a social entrepreneur who draws inspiration from the belief that early education on the positive impact of technology can shape the next generation into innovative thinkers through STEM disciplines. Through workshops, classes, and hackathons, she empowers students to explore and excel in STEM fields. Jasmine’s love for programming apps has led her to win the Congressional App Challenge in 2022 for her app “RexCycle,” which leverages machine learning to simplify the intricacies of recycling. Subsequently, she earned global recognition as a Technovation Combating Hunger Award Winner for her app “HOPE,” a social networking platform connecting volunteers with refugees. Fueled by the thrill of solving cyber security challenges, Jasmine was honored as a 2023 National CyberStart Scholar ranking in the top 7% of CyberStart players nationwide. When she’s not programming, Jasmine enjoys competing in Mock Trial, Debate, and DECA, which complements her love for app development and entrepreneurship, placing 2nd globally at ICDC. Jasmine’s aspirations extend to college, where she envisions studying and delving deeper into technology innovation. She strives to give back to her community through civic engagement on congressional youth boards, advocating for computer science and environmental initiatives.

National Honorable Mention

Laasya Aki – Senior, Wayzata High School

Laasya is a National Honorable Mention recipient. She was a 2023 State Winner and a 2022 Rising Star. Laasya was accepted into the University of Minnesota’s Talented Youth Mathematics Program (UMTYMP), where her interest in technology was sparked through real-world applications of math. This year she has been participating in Technovation, an app building contest, where she and her team are building an app to help children with diabetes monitor their health and gamify diabetes education. She co-founded the nonprofit CODEify, a non-profit whose mission is to make coding education accessible to everybody. This past summer she interned as an App Developer with the Minnesota Twins, and she has been writing for her personal technology blog for four years. She is currently a PSEO Student at the University of Minnesota; this opportunity has allowed her to take classes that reflect her specific interests like higher level math classes that combine math and computer science. She plans to pursue a computer science degree with a math minor.

Jasmitha Allu – Senior, Wayzata High School

Jasmitha is a National Honorable Mention recipient. She was a 2023 National Honorable Mention recipient and State Winner. Jasmitha’s journey into the world of computer science and technology started when she was quite young. Her first experience with it was in middle school when she joined a Technovation competition and made her very own app. This experience opened her eyes to what technology and programming could do. When she got to high school, Jasmitha wanted to learn more about cybersecurity, so she took on internships to go deeper into the field. At Target, she worked closely with Ms. Ronquillo, who taught her about cyber threats and how to manage them. Later, at Cyber Advisors, Jasmitha worked as a Risk Analyst where she learned how to assess risks and make sure that organizations were safe from cyber-attacks. Her journey continued with an apprenticeship at PwC, where she learned even more about cybersecurity under the guidance of Ms. Clearman. They talked about things like threat intelligence and network security, giving Jasmitha a solid foundation in the field. All these experiences have shaped Jasmitha’s passion for cybersecurity. She is determined to make a positive impact in the tech world, using her skills to keep digital information safe and secure for everyone.

Lalitha Gunturi – Senior, Eden Prairie High School

Lalitha is a National Honorable Mention recipient. She was a 2022 National AspireIT Impact recipient and State Winner. She is an aspiring technology entrepreneur who aims to harness technology to create innovations that will foster positive social impact. For years, Lalitha has worked to empower younger students to explore STEM through workshops, classes, tutoring, and advocacy. In 2020, she founded CREATE, an online education platform focused on providing STEM resources to elementary students. Through managing tutors, utilizing social media, and hosting events, she acquired strong leadership skills. Her mission is to empower students to create brighter academic futures by fostering confidence and curiosity in education. She is an active member of her school’s National Computer Science Honor Society, where she tutors AP Computer Science students and enjoys engaging in CS outreach activities at local elementary schools. Lalitha is an economics research intern at the Federal Reserve Bank in Minneapolis. She recently started her research paper on the impact of early STEM exposure on innovation rates and GDP in the United States, hoping to leverage her insights to advocate for improved STEM education opportunities. When she’s not working with technology, Lalitha participates in debate, where she’s a captain, and DECA, where she placed 2nd at internationals. Lalitha plans to major in computer science and minor in business, aspiring to launch a social impact startup in the future.

Zoke Sackih – Senior, Mounds View High School

Zoke is a National Honorable Mention recipient. She is a 2023 National Honorable Mention recipient and State Winner and a 2022 State Honorable Mention recipient. Marvel movies sparked her love for science, specifically Ant-Man and The Wasp. Topics such as quantum and astrophysics were explored in the movie and captivated her. As she did research, Zoke developed a passion for physics and decided that she wanted to dedicate her life to discovering the cosmos. Simultaneously, Zoke’s love for computer science sparked. She started programming in 9th grade for a Technovation competition. Her first program was simple, and she was overjoyed when it worked. Zoke fell in love with the feeling of pride and desire to create programs to impact the world. She has continued with this club and constantly breaks her barriers through innovation. The next year, she joined her high school’s FIRST Robotics Team and interned at Datasite. Through robotics, she could apply programming to a thrilling competition and grow by leading her fellow teammates. During her internship at Datasite, she joined the cloud team, and expanded her knowledge of programming. In three months, she learned the systems and built a tool to help her team in the future. Zoke has continued her programming activities and has added even more. In the future, she aspires to blend physics and programming to explore the marvelous science that stunned her in Ant-Man and The Wasp.

National Honorable Mention and State Winner

Mikhala Rivers – Junior, DeLaSalle High School

Mikhala is a National Honorable Mention, and State Winner. She was a 2023 State Honorable Mention recipient and a 2022 Rising Star. She is passionate about providing STEM opportunities for underprivileged youth in her community. She created a program called Bots for Tots with the goal of bringing robotics and engineering to youth experiencing extended hospital stays. In 8th grade, she joined her very first robotics team competing in the First Lego League circuit. Her team made it to state in their first year. After that, she started a robotics team in the First Tech Challenge, called B.O.B. which stands for Black, Outstanding, and Beautiful. Her team is one of the only all-black all-female robotics teams in the U.S. Her team has inspired two more all-female, all-black teams. She led the team and through robotics, she learned how to code in Java and taught herself Python. This team made it to state in the first year and later received the judge’s award. She is currently working with the mayor to make her city a hotspot for STEM. Outside of robotics, she is a three-sport athlete participating in basketball, and fencing, and is a cheer captain. Mikhala speaks both Spanish and Mandarin Chinese. She strives to help her community in every way possible and inspire everyone to try something new.

Shreya Sekar – Sophomore, Lakeville North High School

Shreya is a National Honorable Mention recipient and a State Winner. She was a 2023 Rising Star. Shreya embarked on her coding journey in 4th grade, exploring Spheros and Scratch. This sparked a keen interest in AP Computer Science, leading her to expand her knowledge through online learning. Her dedication and proficiency secured her a spot in a prestigious university program, where she focused on AI and hardware projects aimed at environmental solutions. Shreya dedicates her time to mentoring young STEM enthusiasts, volunteering in elementary classrooms, and participating in various STEM programs. Through these roles, she has imparted coding and engineering knowledge to children, showcasing her commitment to education. Her conservation project on Blanding’s turtles, utilizing ArcGIS, received awards from Mortenson and National Geographic. Moreover, Shreya actively engages in discussions on gender inequality in STEM through her speeches, demonstrating a balanced approach to her achievements and social advocacy.

Juhae Song – Senior, East Ridge High School

Juhae is a National Honorable Mention recipient and State Winner. She was a 2023 National Impact Award recipient and a 2022 Rising Star. Juhae discovered her passion for computer science and sociology at a young age, eager to understand the bigger picture of complex concepts, whether in code or the world around her. Her interdisciplinary interests coalesced during her junior year, when she worked with 3M engineers to develop a drone prototype that utilizes computer vision to assist in humanitarian aid transportation, researching 3D modeling technology and geopolitical humanitarian crises. She was also her robotics team’s Impact Captain, leading over 45 community outreach events that reached 50,000 people. Under her leadership, her team started educational, racial, and queer equity initiatives in STEM, including visiting local food shelves, hosting STEM and social justice events, and sending robotics kits to impoverished countries abroad. Now, as the team Software Lead, she is in charge of coding the team robot and teaches her peers Java and software development. A full-time student at the University of Minnesota, Juhae works with professors as an undergraduate computer science and sociology researcher and takes 3rd-year undergraduate courses in computer science, mathematics, sociology, and political science. Studying computer science and sociology at Stanford University, Juhae hopes to continue her research and advocacy in computer science to combat structural inequities.

Janelle Tabakov – Junior, Shakopee High School

Janelle is a National Honorable Mention and State Winner. Her interest in technology started early in her life as she admired the world of programming. She used to think that only brilliant people could understand the mysterious mix of words and colors shown on a computer screen. But in 2022, she joined the University of Minnesota’s Summer Computing Academy, which changed her view of STEM. There, she learned Python, her first programming language. To learn more, she also joined the University’s Machine Learning Summer Program, where she used machine learning algorithms to analyze data. Later, Janelle participated in NYU’s Center for Mathematical Talent Summer Math Program for Young Scholars, a three-week online program that taught college-level math and computer science topics, such as number theory, graph theory, and combinatorics. Last summer, Janelle was part of AFS Global STEM Academies, where she spent twelve weeks learning about sustainability and social impact, and then went to China for an exchange. To demonstrate her skills, she created a prototype service that aimed to reduce food waste and food insecurity in her community. Currently, Janelle is a PSEO student at the University of Minnesota, where she wants to challenge herself in STEM subjects. She’s also a teaching assistant there for an introductory programming class and hopes to motivate others who are new to STEM.

Pranavi Vedere – Senior, Math and Science Academy

Pranavi is a National Honorable Mention recipient and a State Winner. She was a 2023 Honorable Mention recipient. Pranavi began a YouTube channel when she was 9 years old which inspired her to learn more about technology. Her interest in creating, editing, and sharing content helped her understand what happens ‘behind the scenes’ to manage the data involved in business. Pranavi volunteered as the Social Media Outreach Director for several nonprofits which led her to start her own. She co-founded a 501(c)(3) nonprofit called CODEify, which provides free online programming courses to underrepresented kids across the United States. Each Saturday, lessons are offered for Python, Java, Scratch, web development, and now ML and AI. Running a non-profit organization taught her how to manage tutors, use various social media platforms, and collaborate with a team of fellow high school scholars. Pranavi was chosen to be a part of the Analytics U 2023 cohort at the Carlson School of Management this summer where she worked with real-world data and statistics and presented the results to a panel of data scientists. She is currently enrolled as a PSEO student at the University of Minnesota which has allowed her to take higher level math and business courses for the future. She plans to pursue her undergraduate studies in information systems, finance, and data analytics. At her school, Pranavi is the president of National Honor Society and the captain of the varsity girls’ badminton team.

Emily Zhou – Junior, East Ridge High School

Emily is a State Winner and National Honorable Mention recipient. She discovered her passion for coding in her sophomore year of high school when she took the class AP Computer Science Principles. After the class, she became more interested in computer science and attended an intensive computing camp at the University of Minnesota where she learned more about the subject. She was fascinated by the constantly changing and growing field of machine learning and artificial intelligence and decided to explore more about multi-agent navigation, dynamic collision avoidance, and reinforcement learning. Currently, Emily is trying to apply biological insights to improve path-planning methods in different environments. Besides coding, Emily also loves reading books. She is working with her local library and its program TeenTober to create new ways to inspire her generation to appreciate reading again.

State Winners

Manasi Alegaonkar – Junior, Wayzata High School

Manasi is a State Winner. Her tech journey started with a childhood interest in LEGOs, sparking her enthusiasm for engineering and technology. She began pursuing her interest by experimenting with different IOS features and web applications. She even accidentally accessed the dark web once. In middle school, she used block coding and MIT App Inventor to make a recycling game. When Manasi became a sophomore, she learned website development and object-oriented programming. Passionate about bridging educational gaps, she helped underprivileged youth through projects like making Vidya Gyan’s website more user-friendly. This website has advanced calendaring and event scheduling features, along with SSL encryption and an integrated payment gateway for donations. Also, as Outreach Director at PyGirls, she supports women’s voices, and as Programming Lead for her Technovation Girls club, she guides peers in web application development. With Cybersecurity certification through GenCyber (funded by the NSA) and skills in multiple programming languages, such as Java, C++, C#, and Python, Manasi’s journey is marked by her steadfast dedication to using technology for social good. Her future goals include exploring the impact of AI on politics and law, motivated by her passion for technology and advocacy for equity.

Sasha Allen – Senior, Eden Prairie High School

Sasha is a State Winner. She is co-president of her school’s Computer Science Honor Society, where she organizes programs to introduce 5th graders to computer science and conducts volunteer community outreach. She participates in her school district’s AI Strategy Team, a group of students, staff, industry members, and community members who work on how to use AI in the classroom. She is also part of the Superintendent’s Student Advisory Council. Beyond her interest in STEM, Sasha has made 11 archival documentaries for the National History Day, C-SPAN StudentCam, and Lowell Milken Unsung Heroes competitions and has received many state and national awards. Sasha is the president of her school’s History Club, where she leads meetings and helps students with their National History Day projects. She is also a member of the Eden Prairie Heritage Preservation Commission and a volunteer at the Eden Prairie Historical Society. Sasha is committed to community service and has volunteered almost 500 hours through the National Charity League. Sasha wants to study digital humanities in college and explore the intersection of history and computer science.

Allyson Barrows – Junior, Spectrum High School

Allyson is a State Winner. She was a 2023 State Honorable Mention recipient and a 2022 Rising Star. Allyson’s interest in STEM started when she was young but the technology aspect became clearer in her freshman year when she took her first programming class. She has completed courses in Web Design, Python, and a college-level Introduction to Technology course. Allyson likes technology because it can solve problems in different fields. She likes coding especially because it can make websites and applications to help users. This summer Allyson did job shadow events and learned how to use Microsoft’s Azure AI in a tech event. She also did the Mentor Mash program through Aspirations. Allyson challenges herself and will get her Associate of Arts degree by the time she finishes high school. Allyson’s other achievements include being Treasurer of National Honor Society, a Leadership Award Recipient, being a section leader in band, and the awards from Aspirations. She is involved in her school community through basketball, band, jazz band, youth group, National Honor Society, student council, link crew, and community service events. She is also a teacher’s assistant. In the future, Allyson wants to use technology to help with medical discoveries and increase our knowledge about the world.

Advika Chaudari – Sophomore, East View High School

Advika is a State Winner. She was a 2023 Rising Star. Advika became interested in coding in third grade when she learned about Lightbot in an Hour of Code session at her school. This inspired her to join a FIRST Lego League team until 6th grade and go to many STEM summer camps. In middle school, she started learning her first coding language: Java. She also taught herself C++ and Python. She was part of a FIRST Tech Challenge team in seventh grade and became the software lead and team captain over three years. Her experience in robotics made her aware of gender gaps in leadership and participation in robotics. To help solve this problem, she created the organization Her FIRST to support girls in robotics and help them build confidence through skill development and networking. Through this initiative, she has assisted eight robotics teams in various ways. She established a new robotics club in India. She has competed in events like Girls Who Code, Technovation, and a Code Savvy Hackathon. She joined a FIRST Robotics Team in 9th grade and quickly became software lead and co-captain. She participates in debate and student council at her school while taking courses like AP Computer Science and AP Calculus BC. Last year, her team also got to go to the Worlds tournament. When Advika has free time, she likes practicing Tae Kwon Do, baking, and reading!

Mina Dang – Senior, Roseville Area High School

Mina is a State Winner. She was a 2023 Rising Star. Her interest in coding started online in Scratch and Khan Academy. She enrolled in all of the computer science courses that were offered to her in middle and high school, but she saw that there were few other girls or people of color in her classes. Looking for community, she participated in programs Kode with Klossy and Girls Who Code where she learned web development, app development, and data analytics with other girls and used those skills to make projects and compete in case competitions. Through those two programs, Mina discovered that she had a special interest in data analytics. She applied and was admitted to the University of Minnesota’s AnalyticsU data analytics camp in 2021. She used her skills to work in the Design & Engineering Youth Crew at the Science Museum of Minnesota and was eventually offered an internship with the museum’s research department where she worked on cleaning the museum database and digitizing specimens. To date, she has learned how to code in C++, Python, JavaScript, and Swift. Outside the classroom, Mina is her school’s Key Club President, DECA President, and Student Council Vice President. On weekends, she teaches Vietnamese, math, and coding classes to Vietnamese children ages 6-10. A PSEO student at Century College, Mina is set to graduate in June of 2024 and hopes to double major in MIS and Data Analytics.

Zeinab Eleie – Senior, Edina High School

Zeinab is a State Winner. Zeinab’s passion for technology stretches back to ten years old when she was creating HTML websites with her siblings. Her passion grew throughout middle school and high school where she had more opportunities to explore different areas of computer science. Zeinab is a PSEO student at Saint Paul College, taking computer science courses. She finds it interesting and helpful to have formalized teaching on the subject. During the summer of 2023, Zeinab participated in the Genesys Works internship program. Through this program, Zeinab interned with the Best Buy Software Engineer cohort. She gained lots of hands-on experience with the coding language Python. Zeinab plans to continue her passion for computer science by majoring in computer science at St. Thomas.

Sabreen Khanikar – Senior, Eden Prairie High School

Sabreen is a State Winner. She was a 2023 Honorable Mention recipient and a 2022 Rising Star. Beginning in elementary school, Sabreen discovered her interest in STEM through camps, activities, and classes. After taking AP computer science classes in high school, she wanted to explore her newfound passion for technology. Interested in how technology can improve businesses, she opened an Etsy small business, BeaniesStickerShop, and has accumulated over 5,000 views, 2,500 visits, and shipped over 500 stickers nationally. Last year, she participated in an IT internship at Land O’ Lakes, working as a Scrum Master and Salesforce user stories. Simultaneously, Sabreen implemented a 4-week coding program and Hackathon at the local middle school where students develop and pitch apps that are centered around a United Nations goal. She was also chosen as a TWIST Epic Award Winner in 2023. Outside of technology, she is the Vice President of Marketing for her DECA chapter, a member of the Fall Dance Team, and the President of Model United Nations (YMCA). Next year, Sabreen plans to study computer science and information systems and hopes to continue motivating other young entrepreneurs to follow their aspirations.

Diya Menon – Senior, Wayzata High School

Diya is a State Winner. Her passion for computer science and math started very early when she participated and won First Lego League Robotics and Math Masters competitions. She was accepted into the University of Minnesota’s Talented Youth Math Program in 8th grade and completed all college-level math by 12th grade. She is now an assistant robotics coach/instructor for STEM Builders & FIRST Tech Challenge. She is the founder of Robo-Tots, a free STEM coding and robotics camp for K-8 students. In addition to her work with STEM Builders, Diya has also interned with the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party as a Data Analyst intern, where she was responsible for coding tools to streamline the process of transferring data, building an automation in AppsScript for generating invoices, and assisting in creating databases with SQL. She is also an intern at the India Association of Minnesota. Diya is a Business Professionals of America 2023 State Finalist in SQL Database Fundamentals & Digital Marketing Concepts; has completed certifications (Google AppsScript); and was selected for the Target Women in Science and Technology EPIC awards, Google’s Code Next Program, and Girls Who Code. Diya’s passion for computer science has led her to enroll in the University of Minnesota’s Postsecondary Enrollment Options program in Computer Science courses. She plans to attend college and pursue a career in computer science, continue to mentor students, and to actively engage in research.

Neha Nandhakumar – Junior, Wayzata High School

Neha is a State Winner. She was a 2023 Rising Star. Neha began to learn python programing in 6th grade. Since then, she has been interested in doing little coding projects and participating in hackathons and summer courses such as Girls Who Code. Last summer she entered the MN Cup. She crafted an idea called percent-x to promote direct and indirect water conservation to reduce overconsumption in America. She aspires to leverage technology for sustainability, shaping her education, research, outreach, competition participation, and career toward this objective. She completed the AFS Global STEM Accelerators program, supported by AFS, the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Social Impact Strategy, and funded by British Petroleum. This program equips scholars like her with the skills and knowledge to drive sustainable change in our communities. These activities have persuaded her to get an engineering degree in the future.

Julia Osmolski – Senior, Burnsville High School

Julia is a State Winner. She was a 2023 State Honorable Mention recipient, a 2022 Rising Star, and a 2021 Certificate of Distinction recipient. She is now gaining real world experience in the technology field by interning at Prime Therapeutics in the IT Department. She is a current senior in high school who has been interested in technology from the age of 3. She spent her summers learning about technology and made her first app at the age of 6 and practiced using 3D printers and recording studio programs at 8. She has attended every technology related class her local libraries had to offer and participated in computing programs including Girls Who Code and Reinventathon. Julia has experience coding with JavaScript, Java, CSS, and HTML and has earned Microsoft Certified Application Specialist: Using Microsoft Office Excel. Julia is also an active participant in her community having received the President’s Volunteer Service Award and National Community Service Ambassador Award for her outstanding work in community service. At school she participates in Youth Service Advisory Council as Vice President, National Honor Society as Senior Class Advisor, Student Council as Executive Board Member, Link Crew as Executive Board Member, and Burnsville Strong. She plans on attending university in the fall of 2024 with a double major in computer engineering and cybersecurity. Her goal is to create a secure operating system that focuses on digital privacy.

Harini Vinod – Senior, Eastview High School

Harini Vinod is a State Winner. She was a 2023 State Honorable Mention recipient and a 2022 Rising Star. Harini is a senior at EVHS who is a passionate and sincere student, athlete, leader, and young aspirer in computing. Harini founded her own local chapter of Girls Who Code, showcasing her commitment to fostering diversity in the tech world. Her dedication extends further as a computer science student aide, using her expertise to assist fellow students in computer science classes. She also volunteers as a tutor for CODEify where she teaches kids basic computing concepts. Apart from the world of computers, she actively participates in several extracurricular activities, including Cross Country, Track and Field, Debate, National Honor Society, and singing Indian Carnatic Music. Harini desires to major in business or MIS in college to further pursue her desire for learning more about technology and how she can use it to create a positive impact on the world.

Angela Wohletz – Senior, Eagan High School

Angela is a State Winner. She was a 2023 Honorable Mention recipient. She has been interested in technology from an early age and has eagerly sought opportunities that have allowed her to learn more about it. Currently a senior, she joined FIRST Tech Challenge at the end of her sophomore year and has been able to learn more about programming in situations beyond just school. Her team has qualified for the state tournament each year but is also passionate about sharing STEM information with the community. Angela completed AP Computer Science last year and is currently a teaching assistant for the class. To further her programming knowledge, Angela plans to major in Computer Science in college.

State Honorable Mention

Yosan Asbu – Junior, Breck School

Yosan is a State Honorable Mention recipient. Yosan has always been interested in math and science, exploring her interests through various extracurricular and on-campus activities. She started learning to code in Python in middle school, quickly developing a passion for coding. Since then, she has taken a two-week summer class on artificial intelligence and machine learning at the University of Minnesota, which further grew her interest in math, science, and coding. Last summer, she participated in a three-week program at Carleton College, where she worked with a partner to develop a machine-learning model program that recognized species of flowers through a webcam. Yosan is a member of her school’s exclusive Advanced Math Research program, where she is working with a peer to investigate the interests of students in math and science at Breck, hoping to use the data to improve the quality of education for her peers. She is a violinist in the string orchestra, a member of the Breck soccer team, part of the math team, and involved in Breck’s FIRST robotics team. In her free time, she enjoys reading and playing the piano.

Tabitha Booker – Senior, Eagan High School

Tabitha is a State Honorable Mention recipient. At the age of 8 or 9, Tabitha was introduced to the world of computing by her grandfather, a computer systems analyst. At the age of 9, Tabitha was given a Linux computer. She was taught a few codes on the computer. By the last year of middle school, Tabitha was attending Raspberry Pi classes, not a baking class, but a course at Minneapolis Technical College. Tabitha’s currently taking Computer Hardware, Software and Game Design, a vocational technical class that has helped her learn about processors, motherboards, graphic cards, etc. Tabitha is a senior in high school and ready for college this fall. She plans to pursue a degree in Computer Engineering with a minor in Astronomy. Her long-standing passion for Computer Engineering increased when she built her own system. After building systems for her family members, she knew it was her career path.

Jordyn Johnson – Junior, DeLaSalle High School

Jordyn is a State Honorable Mention recipient. Jordyn plays Varsity Volleyball and Basketball, and is committed to play volleyball at the University of California at Santa Barbara. She also partakes in a robotics club, B.O.B. (Black, Outstanding, Beautiful), Technovation, which is a girls coding contest, and many school clubs and committees. She is a year ahead in school grade level plus an additional year ahead in her science classes. She enjoys engineering, physics, and outer space, hence, her interest in becoming an Aeronautical Engineer.

Armita Kazemi – Senior, Century High School

Armita is a State Honorable Mention recipient. Armita explored her passion for machine learning through presenting her research paper at the National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium. Currently, she has a mentorship in the Mayo Clinic Artificial Intelligence and Informatics Lab, where she conducts research on using machine learning to identify hepatic failure compensation from liver histopathology images. Armita plans to pursue a degree in computer science and conducting research on AI.

Bethelehem Kebede – Junior, Rosemount High School

Bethelehem is a State Honorable Mention recipient. She was introduced to the STEM field in her freshman year through an experience with her school’s Environmental Science Club that involved building solar panel kits in partnership with the nonprofit We Share Solar. She began coding her sophomore year in her AP Computer Science Principles class. Excited to dig deeper and expand her knowledge of different coding languages, she applied to the Stanford Program for Inspiring the Next Generation of Women in Physics (SPINWIP), a virtual summer program sponsored by Stanford University that teaches physics concepts including Quantum Mechanics and Astrophysics while incorporating Python coding. Bethelehem is currently a high school junior who competes in HOSA medical events and is on her school’s varsity Science Olympiad team. She is also the founder of a church youth group and is captain of her school’s peer tutoring team. She is taking AP Computer Science A learning Java to develop her web development skills. In college, Bethelehem plans to pursue a degree in Biomedical Engineering on the pre-med track. She is passionate about combining the fields of coding and biology to create computational models to make healthcare more efficient.

Grace Li – Junior, Wayzata High School

Grace is a State Honorable Mention recipient. Her passion for STEM started when she participated in Technovation Challenge in middle school. Through Technovation, she was able to learn computer programming, entrepreneurship, and collaboration skills and code apps that solved problems in her community. With her skills and experience, she mentors young girls through the Technovation Challenge at middle schools in her school district. Additionally, she works with a local nonprofit to develop an app that increases their efficiency. Outside of STEM related activities, Grace plays the flute and piano, competes in DECA, and fences nationally. In college, she plans to pursue a major in Computer Science along with Business.

Sophia Lin – Senior, Eden Prairie High School

Sophia is a State Honorable Mention recipient. She is extremely passionate about Computer Science, and has taken classes ranging from iOS Mobile App Development to CSCI 1913 at the University of Minnesota. In addition to her rigorous coursework, she pursued an independent study that focused on diversity within her school’s computer science department. Sophia aims to make STEM education more accessible to elementary-aged students through her involvement in the “CS in the Schools” project and as a teacher’s assistant at Tech Academy. Sophia plans to pursue a degree in Computer Science.

Anjali Marella – Senior, Eden Prairie High School

Anjali is a State Honorable Mention recipient. Her interest in computer science began in ninth grade after taking AP CSP. She has since taken every computer science class offered at her high school: AP CSA (AP JAVA), iOS Mobile App Development, and Cybersecurity. Additionally, she is an ardent member of school clubs such as the Computer Science Honor Society, National Honors Society, the FIRST Robotics team, and the USA Computing Olympiad club. Last year, Anjali participated in CyberStart America–a cybersecurity based competition hosted by the SANS Institute, a company which specializes in cybersecurity education. Having earned a score within the top 7% of players, she achieved the title of Cyber Scholar with Honors. Furthermore, she has received a GIAC Foundational Cybersecurity Technologies (GFACT) certification and is currently working towards a GIAC Cloud Security Essentials (GCLD) certification. Anjali also works to inspire young children to pursue computer science at CodeNinjas, where she guides students through the creation of their own video games.

Lakshika Nanda Kumnar Reddy – Senior, Math and Science Academy

Lakshika is a State Honorable Mention recipient. She is passionate about computer science and research since completing her first AP Computer Science course. In 2023, Lakshika’s research project, “Detecting Cataracts From Front-View Retinal Images Using Machine Learning” was selected to go to ISEF at the Twin Cities Regional Fair where she received a Gold Award and other awards at the MN SSEF. As a part of this project, Lakshika built an app that implemented a machine learning model that identified and classified cataracts and healthy eyes. In addition to her interest in science and research, Lakshika is an Indian classical dancer, badminton player, and a member of multiple clubs including a lettering member of SWENext for two years. This year, as a full-time PSEO student at the University of Minnesota, Lakshika has taken on a full load of computer science classes to advance her knowledge. She aims to obtain a Master’s degree in Computer Science to pursue advancing research and innovations.

Valerie Nelson – Senior, Minnetonka High School

Valerie is a State Honorable Mention recipient. She is a senior in high school who is hoping to major in computer science. Through three years of independent scientific research, Valerie has developed extensive experience with 3D printing, SolidWorks, electronic circuits, Arduinos, and implementing various machine learning models. This past summer she completed an internship with two mathematics professors at the University of Minnesota where she researched neural ordinary differential equations in an epidemiology project. This upcoming year, Valerie is continuing her work with the professors and using machine learning to model the growth of cancer cells. After college, she aspires to have a career working in industry on an exciting AI research team.

Sanjana Polavarapu – Senior, Prior Lake High School

Sanjana is a State Honorable Mention recipient. Since middle school, Sanjana has been passionate about coding starting with coding Python turtles. She learned and developed programs using Java and in high school, she learned HTML, CSS and JavaScript. Sanjana participates in many clubs in her school, including the Junior Optimist Club, Computer Science Club, STEM Club, National Honor Society, Speech Club, and the Robotics team. She participated in a summer program at UT Austin, where she learned C++ and worked on a research project for the Cambridge Centre of International Research. This fall, Sanjana plans to major in Computer Science, hoping to expand her knowledge and help the world around us.

Sarah Schaefer – Senior, Apple Valley High School

Sarah is a State Honorable Mention recipient. She first became interested in computer science when she joined Lego Robotics in elementary school. In middle and high school, she took as many coding classes as she could, including AP Computer Science. Sarah is also a member of her schools Girls Who Code club, which is currently working on a website to help students with scheduling classes. Besides coding, Sarah’s interests include tennis, piano, and golf. She also enjoys math, and is a member of her school’s math team. Sarah plans on becoming a chemical engineer as this career combines her passion for chemistry, math, and computer science.

Thanishka Shetty – Junior, Mounds View High School

Thanishka is a State Honorable Mention recipient. She is a tactful, talented, and tenacious individual who is passionate about making a difference in the lives of others through Research and Development. Her interests include Biomedical, Research and Development, and Business. She is an active member of her community through TechnovationGirls, Code Savvy, DECA, and many other clubs. Thanishka works with many 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations to close the STEM education gap in communities across Minnesota. In the future, she aspires to channel her skills into biomedical research and development, dedicated to improving individuals’ well-being and creating a brighter future. Her ultimate vision is a future where technology seamlessly integrates into every facet of her life, enriching experiences, knowledge, and career growth. It will serve as the driving force behind progress, innovation, and connectivity, weaving a digital tapestry of endless opportunities for a fulfilling and promising tomorrow.

Emily Springer – Senior, Southwest High School

Emily is a State Honorable Mention recipient. She has been active in robotics for over 8 years, with the first two years with FLL robotics and the last six years with FTC robotics. She currently has a job mentoring other robotics teams in the Twin Cities. This past year, Emily’s team won 1st Inspire at the State Championships and went on to win 3rd Inspire in their division at worlds. At the 2023 State Tournament, Emily won the Stratasys programming award which recognizes her work in coding. In addition, she was awarded the TARGET Twist Award which recognizes her work in STEM. Outside of school, she enjoys biking, playing tennis and volunteering as well as presenting demonstrations at various FIRST events.

Abigail Tabor – Senior, Simley high School

Abigail is a State Honorable Mention recipient. She has had a fascination with programming and mathematics since her days of attempting to learn cheats in Mario Kart 64. Throughout elementary school she always took every opportunity given to her to learn within both the programming and mathematics fields. Robotics and daily math problems were common. As she got older, Abigail delved deeper into computer science and its mathematical influence. She has explored web development, app development, robotics, ai, game development, and game theory. She has managed to take every technology class in her school and even took a summer program at Carleton! Abigail is thrilled to be a part of the Aspirations community.

Tvisha Talwar – Sophomore, Wayzata High School

Tvisha is a State Honorable Mention recipient. Her interest in coding was sparked while still in elementary school through, an educational nonprofit dedicated to giving every student the opportunity to learn computer science. In 5th grade, Tvisha joined a local FIRST Lego league team, where she participated in an international robotics competition, reaching state level. More recently, she attended the Kode with Klossy summer program focused on mobile app development. She learned about IOS dev through Swift UI and built her very first application. She taught herself C++ as well as python, and participated in the United States of America Computing Olympiad. Outside of technology, Tvisha is part of her schools BPA, DECA, Speech, SciOly, and debate teams. She looks forward to learning more about technology in the future.

Ning Zhang – Sophomore, Alexandria Area High School

Ning is a State Honorable Mention recipient. She was a 2023 Rising Star. From a young age, Ning was fascinated by coding. She would spend hours on, creating new projects. Through her local community education, she took summer classes to learn coding and engineering basics. In middle school, she learned how to use Tinkercad and 3D printers. She also used Vexcode VR to program robot movements. She has created many online games using construct and has learned how to debug games. Last summer, Ning attended a GenCyber camp where she learned about hardware, operating systems, and programming using Raspberry Pi and online programs. She also learned about networking and securing data through games and cryptography websites. As a sophomore in high school, Ning currently participates in many extracurriculars such as DECA, HOSA, swimming, track, and leadership council. In her free time, Ning likes spend time with her friends, cook and play piano.

Rising Star Honorees

Hajira Abuad – Sophomore, Rosemount High School
Farhiya Aden – Senior, Brooklyn Center Academy (ALC)
Hamda Aden – Junior, Brooklyn Center Academy (ALC)
Serenity Bent – Senior, Bridges Area Learning Center
Bhama Binu – Junior, Wayzata High School
Malia Boeckermann – Sophomore, Breck School, Golden Valley
Lynn Carter – Sophomore, Edina High School
Ziwei Chen – Junior, Eden Prairie High School
Aradhana Choudhury – Senior, Eden Prairie High School
Avital Coleman – Freshman, St. Paul Academy and Summit School
Sumaya Hussein – Senior, Eden Prairie High School

Reeha Ibrahim – Sophomore, Totino-Grace High School, Fridley
Catie Ingrisone – Junior, Edina High School
Delmariea Joseph – Junior, Tartan High School, Oakdale
Melody Li – Junior, Eden Prairie High School
Kara McCalley – Senior, Minnesota Connections Academy, St. Paul
Faaliha Mohamed Prem Navaz – Senior, Wayzata High School
Aaratrika Mondal – Sophomore, Wayzata High School
Tasnema Mustafa – Senior, Minnesota Math & Science Academy, St. Paul
Stella Paynter – Sophomore, Roseville Area High School
Avanthikhashree Prabaharan – Senior, Eden Prairie High School
Sanjana Raveendranath – Junior, Prior Lake High School

Teagan Rivers – Sophomore, DeLaSalle High School, Minneapolis
Julia Rosenman – Freshman, Breck School, Golden Valley
Sara Rosenman – Freshman, Breck School, Golden Valley
Caitlin Sheeran – Senior, Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton High School
Riddhi Singhvi – Freshman, Stillwater Area High School
Sieun Sung – Junior, Wayzata High School
Prema Suthaharan – Senior, Edina High School
Naomi Teklemariam – Junior, Rosemount High School
Ezra Thigpen – Senior, Rosemount High School
Isabella Wittwer – Junior, Princeton High School
Ella Ziel de Cruz – Senior, School of Environmental Studies, Apple Valley