South Orangetown Central School District

Tappan Zee High School sophomore Olivia Steger has been selected by the National Center for Women & Information Technology as an Aspirations in Computing 2019 National Award Honorable Mention! Of the more than 4,300 applicants for this award, 360 students earned a National Award Honorable Mention and placed in the top 10% of all applicants. Recipients are selected based on interest and achievements in computing and technology, leadership, academic performance, and plans for post-secondary education.

“I’m really honored and encouraged by this recognition and it inspires me to do more to help other girls get involved in computer science,” says Olivia, who began programming at age 9 and was a member of the competitive FIRST LEGO League robotics teams at Cottage Lane Elementary School and South Orangetown Middle School. For the past two years, she has been a software development lead and drive team technician for SO BOTZ, Tappan Zee High School’s FIRST Robotics Competition team, and a member of the school’s Computer Science Club. Olivia has a mobile app in the App Store and on Google Play, and has earned awards for other projects at Major League Hacking hackathons. Since January 2016, she has taught programming basics to younger students as a volunteer at the Palisades Free Library.

“Olivia is constantly challenging herself to learn more about designing, programming and implementing new concepts in computer science,” notes TZHS Computer Science/Maker Space Teacher and SO BOTZ Lead Advisor Karen Connell. ”She is a role model for our younger students and she exemplifies strong leadership qualities.”

Olivia plans to pursue a career in computer science and says that having time to write code and conduct research at school for personal projects has been valuable. “Robotics, independent study at SOMS, and computer science classes at TZ have helped me develop my skills, and Mrs. Connell is always looking for ways to create opportunities for us,” she notes. “I’ve also learned that work ethic is important and that it’s OK to struggle from mentors in the tech industry who have been great role models.”

Student seated in computer lab