Google Names an INI Student a Scholarship Finalist

May 13, 2010

Opportunities sometimes appear in the most unexpected places, and for Lirida Kercelli, one laid waiting in her inbox from the industry giant Google. As a subscriber to the monthly e-newsletter from the Anita Borg Institute, Lirida learned about a scholarship program in February, and not long after reading it she began the long process to apply.

Google offers the Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship annually to female students pursuing degrees in technology. Recipients of the 2010 scholarship are awarded $10,000 towards the tuition of the 2010-2011 academic year. In addition, Google invites a group of finalists from the applicant pool to join the recipients for the annual Google Scholar's Retreat at the company's headquarters in California.

Kercelli needed to submit extensive information about her academics, her ideas, and her goals in order to be considered for the scholarship. In addition to a resume, transcripts and references, she wrote about diversity in computing and described important projects she had completed. Importantly, she included examples of how she had taken leadership roles, such as through her participation in Women@INI. She then went through an interview process.

"The most exciting part of the application was the 30-minute interview with a Google engineer, where we could tell more about our accomplishments, the challenges of being a minority in computing and technology fields, and some future plans and effective strategies to increase the number of women in these fields," said Kercelli.

In the spring, Google announced the recipients and finalists and recognized nine students from Carnegie Mellon, including Kercelli who received finalist status and an invitation to the Google Scholar's Retreat scheduled for June 23-25. The retreat will present workshops, speakers, panelists, breakout sessions and social activities for a wide range of scholarship recipients. Other participants will include Google United Negro College Fund Scholars, the Google Hispanic College Fund Scholars, the Google American Indian Science & Engineering Society Scholars and the Google Lime Scholars. 

"This experience was very rewarding to me as I had a chance to have my ideas heard and appreciated," said Lirida. "I am especially grateful for the knowledge I gained at INI and for the great support from the professors at INI, who helped in making all this happen."