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Grace Hopper Conference Scholarship Continues

October 27, 2008

Even before classes began for the fall semester, many INI students were hard at work writing essays. For the past three years, the INI has offered an essay contest to INI women for the chance to attend the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, an annual conference for academics and professionals in technology. Founded in 1994, the conference hosts top talent and industry leaders and earned sold-out numbers in 2007. As a sponsor of the event, the INI pays for the attendance and travel fees of a few students in the form of scholarships.

The 2008 conference took place in Keystone Resort, Colorado, from October 1-4, and hosted presentations by innovators in their fields discussing research and career opportunities in the areas of computer science, information technology and engineering. Based on their winning essays, five women from the INI attended the conference: Avni Baveja, Hazel Mary, Ines Oliveira, Aditi Pendharkar and Tyelisa Shields.

The students attended presentations and spent time introducing themselves to other students and representatives of potential employers. Corporate giants Google, Yahoo!, Symantec and Sun Microsystems were all represented, among others.

"It was a wonderful networking opportunity, and it was great to see so many people interested in technology in one place," said Avni Baveja, a first-year graduate student, who used the event to seek leads for an internship.

The conference reflected the high-tech interests of its attendees by taking an innovative approach to the art of networking. In lieu of business cards and sign-up forms at booths, the conference attendees used a tool called CONNECT to scan each other's name tags in order to share contact information. Through chatting and scanning, the women enjoyed meeting with students and professionals alike and were able to quickly gather information to help them in their future careers.

First-year graduate student Tyelisa Shields reported: "To meet other female students who are going through the same thing and be able to identify with them—it's nice. We were in our comfort zone."

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