Three GGC students receive Women in Technology scholarships

Le Quang Greatzel Unabia

Le Quang Greatzel Unabia

Three Georgia Gwinnett College information technology students have been awarded scholarships from Women in Technology (WIT), an Atlanta-based nonprofit created to empower girls and women to excel in science, technology, engineering, the arts and math (STEAM) “from the classroom to the boardroom.”

The scholarships, sponsored by major tech companies in Atlanta including Coca-Cola, ADP and State Farm are given to individual students to support their education and are based on their academic performance and their service and leadership to the WIT community on and off campus. This year there were 40 applicants from colleges and universities all across Georgia. Of these 40 applicants, 16 finalists and six winners were chosen. Of the six winners, three were GGC students Marium Zafar, Sandy Ali and Le Quang Greatzel Unabia, all information technology majors. The women will receive scholarships of $5,000, $5,000 and $12,500, respectively.

Unabia, a senior studying psychology and technology, said she was introduced to WIT@GGC, a registered student organization at GGC, during a critical time in her life.

“During the most challenging time of my college career, when I had decided to quit technology, WIT@GGC invited me to their coding bootcamp. It was in this coding bootcamp where I met women who were already working in the tech industry, and meeting them made me realize that I didn’t have to quit,” said Unabia. “It was also in that bootcamp where the concepts that I didn’t understand the semester before started to make sense. It was there where I seriously realized that I had an opportunity, and even if I was bad at coding, I could change and become better through effort.

Marium Zafar

Marium Zafar

Unabia is now the vice president of WIT@GGC and says the connections and friendships she’s made with other women in IT through involvement in the organization has been essential in her college journey. Without the support she found in WIT@GGC, she says, she wouldn’t have had the motivation to capitalize on opportunities, both on and off the GGC campus, that lead to her earning the scholarship, which is sponsored by Coca-Cola, Honeywell and State Farm.

“It feels wonderful to have my hard work not only recognized but also awarded by WIT,” she said. “It feels surreal to have something so wonderful happen to me while the rest of the world is ablaze with injustice. I feel privileged to be in the position that I am today.”

Ali, a 2020 graduate who studied software development, said WIT has made a huge impact in her life since the first event she attended in 2018. Her scholarship is being sponsored by the company ADP, or Automatic Data Processing Inc.

“We all are going through a lot of challenging times and I can’t be thankful enough to have this amazing organization awarding scholarships to students like me and all the winners,” she said. “I am beyond happy that ADP selected me to be one of the winners. Having an amazing company like ADP believing in me and sponsoring my scholarship made a huge difference in my life.”

Zafar, whose IT concentration is enterprise systems, said she never would have applied, had it not been for her fellow WIT@GGC officers and mentors. Her scholarship is also sponsored by ADP, and she says she hopes her experience will inspire other women to apply for the scholarship next year.

Sandy Ali

Sandy Ali

“I am grateful that ADP has chosen to sponsor me, and I am thankful to WIT@GGC for creating this scholarship opportunity to support women in STEAM,” said Zafar. “I intend to utilize this opportunity to complete my bachelor’s by May 2021 and give back to my GGC community. I hope my experience will inspire other women to apply to the WIT Campus Scholarship next year. Whatever is destined for you is what will happen, so don’t shy away from supporting your fellow women and doing your best!”

Sonal Dekhane, interim dean of the School of Science and Technology and faculty co-advisor of WIT@GGC, said the scholarships recognize the need to provide support for women in the field of computing in innovative ways. The WIT scholarships acknowledge the students’ accomplishment in their coursework. The scholarships also honor their accomplishments as leaders who bring people together and build a community of support, thereby helping to diversify the field of information technology.

“There is a dearth of women in the IT field: Only about 25 percent of individuals in the IT workforce are women and only about 18 percent of computing degrees are awarded to women nationally,” said Dekhane. “At GGC only 20 percent of our IT majors are women. Greatzel, Marium and Sandy’s contributions to creating a community of support on our campus along with other WIT@GGC officers and members is crucial in retaining our IT majors and encouraging other women to consider this field of study.”

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