HHS student receives national recognition for computing



Huntsville High School grade 10 student Mary Jeffries, who has a strong passion for computing and robotics, has received an honourable mention in the Award for Aspirations in Computing. The award was created by the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) in the U.S. and is being offered as part of a regional affiliate program in Canada for the first time through a partnership between the Association for Computing Machinery’s Council on Women in Computing (AMC-W) and Queen’s University.

Jeffries has had the desire to get involved in technology since childhood but it wasn’t until grade nine that she got to try it out first hand.

She took the all-female integrated technology class at HHS which includes automotive, construction and robotics, and says she was most excited to learn about robotics.

“I had never got the chance to experiment with technology before last year aside from playing video games,” she says. “When we got into robotics we started designing stuff. I liked it so much and had tons of fun. I love designing and programming different robots and seeing what they can do.”

Jeffries loved her tech classes so much that she signed up for both grade 10 and 11 computer science and robotics so she could learn as much as possible.

When her teacher, Ian McTavish, who teaches both computer sciences and robotics and runs the school’s robotics team, suggested that Jeffries apply for an award for females in technology, she was anxious to get her application submitted.

“McTavish was really the person who got me into computing and robotics,” she says. “He made technology seem so fun and inspiring. He would even use games to help us learn programming and coding.”

In order to apply for the award, Jeffries had to fill out a fairly extensive application with numerous essay-style questions including describing a major problem she wants to solve in technology and sharing what inspired her passion for technology.

Canadian students in grades 9-12 who self-identify as women, genderqueer, or non-binary were eligible to apply and were considered for one of three award levels: Winner (students who have significantly demonstrated interest and aptitude for computing), Honorable Mention (students who have demonstrated interest and aptitude for computing) or Rising Star (students who may be starting out in their pursuit and study of computing, and are encouraged to continue their exploration of the field).

The NCWIT award is sponsored by Apple, Bank of America, Microsoft, Google, Shopify, TD Bank and other big names in technology.

The Canadian regional affiliate awards will be presented on November 9 at the International Centre in Mississauga during the Canadian Celebration of Women in Computing Conference. Jeffries says she can’t wait.

“This award will give me so many more opportunities to explore my passions and make some amazing connections along the way,” she says. “It will open up so many new resources for me and be able to do things I was never able to before.”

Jeffries is working toward some big goals and has a plan for where her path will take her after high school. She is looking forward to taking the grade 11 and 12 university courses that will further her knowledge in computer technology and robotics and after graduating plans to attend Trent University for forensic science in order to become a blood stain pattern analyst.

She also has a big dream to create filters for factories that produce harmful chemicals and are affecting climate change.

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  1. Laura Jeffries BScN RN Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare on

    Congratulations Mary! Great work and so awesome to see credit given to Mr McTavish you are well on your way to an exciting and legacy creating career! Love you so much Mary!! Love Mom

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