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April 28, 2011

Making IT big: Two New Albany High School students get statewide computing recognition

NEW ALBANY — Between the two of them, they’re experienced in about seven fairly complex languages.

They’re not really spoken, but they help people use databases at work and access websites at home.

Brittany Kaiser and Geralyn Dierfeldt, two seniors at New Albany High School, were two of 20 young women recognized in the state by the National Center for Women and Information Technology this year. They received the organization’s award for Aspirations in Computing last week. Their computer teacher, Mindy Johns, said it was good to see two of her students win an exclusive award.

“It’s very rewarding, for sure,” Johns said. “I’m excited that they want to pursue technology as a career. Most girls like the classes, but it’s good to know they want to do something with [computing] as a career.”

The organization works to increase the participation of women in information technology.

Johns said a lot of boys get involved with computing classes because of an interest in video game development, but she doesn’t see as many girls in her classes.

The girls each received an electronic notebook, $250 and scholarship offers from schools across the state.

Dierfeldt and Kaiser have been taking classes with Johns since they were sophomores. Now that they’re graduating, they’re glad the award helped them get scholarship offers from universities across the state.

Dierfeldt said she’s interested in using her information technology skills to integrate them with physical therapy.

“Technology use has just drastically increased,” Dierfeldt said. “When I tell people I want to do both, they think that’s kind of obscure, but it all relates together.”

Dierfeldt said she hopes she can help medical personnel easily access databases and medical histories of patients.

Johns said with all three courses Dierfeldt has taken with her, she’s earned an A.

“I found Geralyn to be responsible, organized and willing to help others,” Johns said.

Kaiser said she’s interested in studying chemical engineering at the Rose Hulman Institute of Technology or Purdue University.

She said no matter what area of the field she enters, she’ll have to use her computer skills as a professional.

“You’re going to have to be familiar with all of the software and programs they use,” Kaiser said.

Though she’s not completely sure if she’s going to minor in information technology or not, she said she’s always had an interest in computers.

Along with her classwork, Kaiser has worked on the high school’s website.

She said she gets most of the coding just fine, but sometimes it just doesn’t agree with her.

“Getting things to look organized isn’t easy,” Kaiser said. “Sometimes, you can’t get everything to do what you want.”

Dierfeldt said after she won the award, her aunt calls her with any computer questions she has. Sometimes she knows the answers, sometimes she doesn’t.

“I like that they think I know that much, but I don’t always solve the issue,” Dierfeldt said. “But that always makes me want to learn how to resolve the problem.”

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