Congrats to our White House Champs!
On September 15, the White House honored 11 young women who empower their communities as Champions of Change, inspiring others all over the world to see their own potential for being leaders in their communities. Two of the honorees were AiC Community Members Meredith Boyce and Swetha Prabakaran, beating out 1,000 other nominees!
The event was streamed live at the White House website, and the video is now archived. Following remarks by Senior Advisor to the President and Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls Valerie Jarrett, United States Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith, and other esteemed guests, the honorees spoke about their love for technology and innovation during a series of panels.
During her panel, Meredith used her infectious sense of humor to tell the story behind her passion for change and shared how support from a strong community, like the NCWIT Aspirations in Computing Community, is so important in achieving dreams.
"I'm extremely honored to be a part of the White House's Champions of Change program. The doors that are being opened to me wouldn't have been there without the support of NCWIT. My work rests on the abilities of the technology I use and the wider communities which support me. I am so thankful for this opportunity to represent NCWIT, Converse College, and my alma maters: the South Carolina School for the Blind, Spartanburg High School, and Daniel Morgan Technology Center. I look forward to a long career in technology and academia and thank the White House for taking note of the little people like me," said Meredith.
Swetha shared her story as to encouraging girls to be confident can help them grow into amazing leaders.
"It is such an honor to be recognized by the White House for this work. When I took my first CS class, I never imagined that one day I'd be the one teaching kids to code. I would never have entered Computer Science if I hadn't seen powerful women in this field from an early age, such as my mother and my freshman Computer Science teacher. Being able to see women I admired and looked up to in this space gave me the confidence I needed to pursue my love for Computer Science. Through Everybody Code Now!, I hope to inspire other girls and empower them in the way my mentors encouraged me, and I look forward to partnering with other schools to inspire even more students to become community leaders, innovators, and ‘Champions of Change' themselves."
Meredith Boyce is a 2014 National Award Runner-up and a 2014 South Carolina Affiliate Award winner. In 2011, a traumatic brain injury turned Meredith's life upside down, leaving her with disabilities including blindness that required more services than her school could provide. She transferred to the South Carolina School for the Blind (SCSB), but never forgot her prior fascination with computers. During her time at SCSB, Meredith became first an unofficial and later official accessible technology consultant, rehabbing old laptops and setting up adaptive technology solutions for fellow blind students. This grew into a larger endeavor when Spartanburg High School and the School for the Blind assigned a laptop computer to every student. Meredith began facilitating blind and visually impaired students transition to the new technology tools with training to allow them to fully utilize their new hardware and software tools and reach their highest potential. Meredith is now a computer science major at Converse College and an active member of the National Center for Women & Technology¹s Aspirations in Computing program.
Swetha Prabhakaran is a 2015 Virginia & Washington D.C. Affiliate Award Runner-up. Swetha is the Founder and CEO of Everybody Code Now!, a non-profit working to empower the next generation of youth to become engineers, scientists, and entrepreneurs. Under Swetha¹s direction, Everybody Code Now! has taught hundreds of students how to code and has raised thousands of dollars for STEM activities in schools. Her mentorship programs have transformed shy young girls into confident students, community leaders, and budding technologists. Swetha is currently a junior at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology and hopes to continue inspiring and encouraging young women to transform their future and the world.
NCWIT would like to congratulate Meredith and Swetha on the amazing work they've done and this well-deserved honor! We look forward to seeing even more AiC Community Members on the panel next year.
The Champions of Change program was created as an opportunity for the White House to feature individuals doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities. You can learn more by visiting www.whitehouse.gov/champions.