Natalia Rodriguez ’15 received the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) Collegiate Award. The award honors the outstanding technical accomplishments of undergraduate women at the junior level and above. Conferred upon three students annually, the award recognizes a specific technical project.

“We’re not only recognizing these women for their leading-edge innovations, we’re recognizing them as role models who can inspire younger girls with their exciting, real-world technical achievements,” says NCWIT CEO and Co-Founder Lucy Sanders.

Natalia did not come to Southwestern intending to be a computer science major; however, after taking a variety of classes—from Computer Science 1 through the Senior Seminar in Software Engineering—with Associate Professor of Computer Science Barbara Antony, she became an advocate for the opportunities the major provides. She is one of three inaugural recipients of the NCWIT Collegiate Award, and the only recipient from a liberal arts college.

Southwestern’s computer science program encourages students to make connections between computer science and their other passions. As a student, Natalia was able to do research with faculty members, participate in computer science club as well as events with alumni, and received support to attend conferences. She was also an instructor in a summer program that taught high school teachers about computer science, a writer for the college newspaper, and the organizer of the Real People Real Beauty campaign. Of campus, she was a student member on the Anita Borg Institute Board of Trustees and an intern at Fast Company.

Dr. Anthony said, “Students like Natalia and the intellectual environment at Southwestern University make me proud to be a computer scientist at an institution where students can discover their future as shapers in the world of computing.” Associate Professor Emeritus of Computer Science Barbara Boucher Owens attended the awards presentation on behalf of the department.

The NCWIT is a non-profit community of more than 650 universities, companies, nonprofits and government organizations nationwide working to increase women’s participation in computing and technology. NCWIT equips change leaders with resources for taking action in recruiting, retaining and advancing women from K–12 and higher education through industry and entrepreneurial careers.