Sevastopol Student Rides Award to Michigan Tech

Katie Ertz, CFO of the National Center for Women in Technology, presents Samantha Spohn with the National Center for Women & Information Technology Aspirations in Computing Award. Submitted photo.

Sevastopol High School student Samantha Spohn received an award from the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) for her skill in computing. Spohn earned the award by excelling in computer coding with 26 other girls throughout Wisconsin.

“She had to meet certain qualifications and she was the only national runner up at this banquet in Milwaukee,” said Spohn’s mother, Lynne Tipler. The award attracts attention from major corporations such as Microsoft and Apple, explained Tipler. “It has huge potential.”

In the past several years, schools and community groups have attempted to increase participation of women in the computing sciences. NCWIT looks to promote this by providing resources to schools, business and community organizations to encourage more young women to pursue a career in the field of information technology.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, in 2014, 26 percent of professional computing jobs were held by women despite women making up 57 percent of all professional occupations. Information technology is one of the fastest growing fields and groups like NCWIT see the female work force as an untapped market for these openings.

“The whole purpose of this is to promote women in technology, or anybody for that matter,” said Tipler. “For Sam, it’s not just computing, but she is basically a STEM person.”

STEM consists of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. These four fields are the foundation to get kids excited about the hard sciences.

“A lot of the stuff that she did, she does on her own, whether it’s developing apps or making games,” said Tipler. “She has a really big interest in that.”

Spohn has volunteered with the Boys & Girls Club, teaching kids about computing, which earned her a Youth Golden Heart Volunteer Award this year. If she had one more year at Sevastopol, she would have started a computer-coding club to get more students involved in the field.

Instead, Spohn will attend Michigan Tech to study computer science. Michigan Tech is host of the Mind Trekkers group that visited the Science and Engineering Festival that took place at Southern Door High School in April.

Spohn received the award at Alverno College in Milwaukee.

“They were shocked when we told them we were coming to the event because everyone else was from Milwaukee,” said Tipler, who recognizes the limits in accessibility to technology in rural Door County schools.

“One of our little hometown girls has potential and this can open doors,” said Tipler. “We always see so many talented kids coming out of this county.”