WSHS student wins statewide computer science award

Nicole Miller WSHS

WSHS senior Nicole Miller.

Nicole Miller has narrowed her journey down to three potential career paths.

The Winona Senior High School student wants to work for a large tech company, like Google or Amazon. Or maybe for a small tech startup. Or, after being inspired by the guidance from teachers in her life, could do the same for other students as a college professor, an option that would also allow her to conduct “cutting edge research that can impact the world.”

Miller, a senior, is well on her way to following those dreams. She recently received the 2021 Aspirations in Computing State Award, an honor bestowed by The National Center for Women & Information Technology that goes to students who have clearly and significantly demonstrated interest and aptitude for computing. It is the highest state-level honor a student can win from the NCWIT. 

In the past, Miller also received a 2020 honorable mention state award and was named a 2019 Minnesota Affiliate Rising Star. 

Miller can trace her passion for computer technology to the experiences she had in Winona Area Public Schools.

“After first learning about computer science in fifth grade, I was hooked,” Miller said. “Through participating in the media club in middle school and Tech Nest at the high school, I was able to continue to grow my interest in technology.”

Miller has also attended summer camps at Stanford University and the University of Minnesota to work with computer science professors and students on programming projects. She was selected to participate this summer in Google’s four-week Computer Science Summer Institute, where she will learn more about programming and software engineering from Google employees. 

She plans to attend the University of Wisconsin, the University of Minnesota or UC San Diego as a Computer Science major with a math minor, which would prepare her to be a mathematically oriented computer scientist.

With the Tech Nest, Miller leads a student group that helps the WSHS community with technology issues. It also live streams Winona Area Public Schools athletic events, music concerts, public meetings and more in addition to producing other video and audio projects, such as the Hawk Now web series. 

The NCWIT offers an annual awards program that recognizes young women in high school for their technology interests, skills and accomplishments. Since 2012, Minnesota has been a state affiliate, allowing high school students in Minnesota the opportunity to be selected as national and/or state award recipients.  This year, nearly 4,300 students from across the nation applied for the award.