The IT Girls Alumnae Executive Board, from left to right:  Megan Swanson '18, Elizabeth Griffin '15, Rosaly Salcedo '16, Chelsea Hawkins '17, Christie Jasmin '17.

By: Diane Stirling
(315) 443-8975

A new student organization at the School of Information Studies (iSchool) has been selected to receive special recognition by Syracuse University for its work in the arena of public engagement and scholarship.

The It Girls Alumnae Executive Board (E-Board) has been chosen as a recipient of a 2015 Chancellor’s Award for Public Engagement and Scholarship. Members of the E-Board will be honored at a recognition ceremony with Syracuse University Chancellor Kent Syverud at a dinner Wednesday.  

The board consists of students Fatma Ngom ‘16; Elizabeth Jane Griffin ‘15; Christie Caroline Jasmin ‘16; Rosaly Salcedo ‘16; Chelsea Rae Hawkins ‘15; and Megan Swanson ‘17.

The It Girls Alumnae E-Board was formed following the third year of the It Girls Overnight Retreat. It was proposed as a new student organization that would serve to connect and unify former participants in the It Girls program who were attending Syracuse University.

The It Girls retreat is a slumber party-meets-hackathon weekend that is designed to engage, inspire, and celebrate young women and their potential in technology. Developed by the iSchool to address gender diversity in the IT field, the It Girls program launched in 2011. Participants are drawn from a number of cities (including large urban areas and more recently, local communities) and from several states. Nearly 350 high school juniors and seniors have participated in the program, with many going on to apply to, matriculate at, and graduate from the School of Information Studies and other colleges within Syracuse University since that time.

The It Girls Alumnae E-Board group began operating in the fall of 2014. Since then, the group has planned and conducted a number of events at the University and in the local community in expression of its mission to build a community within the It Girls cohort.  Its activities have included a “Cupcakes, Cookies, and Code” introductory coding workshop; a “Wings and Web Design” workshop that introduced web design and Adobe Photoshop software; and “Present IT,” a speaker series featuring topics including email etiquette and social media do’s and don’ts.

The E-board also has participated in activities including the Fall 2014 It Girls Overnight Retreat; the 2015 New York Conference of Women in Computing (presenting at a poster session and conducting a panel discussion on their community-building efforts); and developed a partnership with the Syracuse YWCA Girls Inc. organization through an initiative called, “Made with Code.” The group took second place at the Women in Computing conference, for their poster, 'Forming a Sisterhood in Tech.'

The It Girls Alumnae E-Board group’s award nomination expressed how the It Girls Alumnae group embodies diversity from multiple perspectives. The alumnae consist of first,- second-, and third-year students studying at the University, and while they “share an interest in changing the world with technology,” members are pursuing a variety of programs of study within eight schools and colleges on campus. Additionally, they represent a range of ethnicities and a majority of those members on campus identify as an underrepresented minority. The nomination noted how the diversity among members and their shared interests and characteristics, combined with their participation in the It Girls Retreat, “foster an environment of camaraderie and mentorship that add to their Syracuse University experience.” The group was nominated for the honors by their advisor, Jessica Murray, a development associate at the School.

The Chancellor’s Public Engagement and Scholarship Awards are presented annually to Syracuse University students and organizations whose work in partnership with citizens and organizations in the community exemplifies meaningful and sustained engagements, according to the Chancellor’s announcement. The awards recognize committed students who “have significantly contributed to their communities through innovative public scholarship and community engagement,” thereby “making the community a better place.” The awards also recognize actions that promote “positive change that simultaneously advances knowledge and meets real-world needs.” The award was first presented in 1992.