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News & Articles

August 6, 2019 |

CompTIA Honors Second Annual Advancing Women in IT Award Winners

Recognized at the industry association’s 2019 ChannelCon show, the four honorees include this year’s recipient of a scholarship named after former ChannelPro Executive Editor Cecilia Galvin, who died two years ago.

CompTIA’s Advancing Women in IT (AWIT) community has handed out its second annual set of Spotlight Awards honoring leaders, mentors, and visionaries committed to encouraging women to pursue careers in technology.

The awards ceremony took place on the opening day of CompTIA’s annual ChannelCon event, which is now underway in Las Vegas.

Included among the honorees was Destiny Adams (pictured, second from left), who received this year’s CompTIA/ChannelPro Cecilia Galvin Scholarship Award. Named after former ChannelPro Executive Editor Cecilia Galvin, who passed away in 2017, the latter prize grants $5,000 to a standout high school graduate interested in launching an education in technology.†

Three additional Spotlight Awards went to Sarah Massengill (pictured left) and Sarah Merritt (pictured second from right), both of whom serve in the U.S. Air Force, and Rokeya Jones (pictured right), a senior director of product management at Microsoft.

Like her predecessor Sarah Johnson, who won the inaugural CompTIA/ChannelPro Cecilia Galvin Scholarship Award last year, Adams already shows great promise as a future IT luminary. Since graduating from North Springs High School in Atlanta at age 16, she has mentored or trained over 1,000 girls in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) through past service as global youth ambassador for advocacy group STEM Atlanta Women and her current work as STEM youth coordinator for Atlanta’s African-American Panoramic Experience (APEX) museum, among other endeavors.

Adams also heads two separate organizations dedicated to assisting young women like herself: Destiny Adams International, which runs coding camps and presents keynote speeches, and the Destiny Adams Foundation, which connects students with mentors in both STEM and non-STEM fields.

In addition, Adams is a contributing author of the 2017 book Embracing STEM Smarts: An Encouraging Guide for Young Ladies Who Have a Passion for STEM. A second book called Finding Your Destiny: A Guide to Becoming a Girl Boss is due to be published shortly.

Adams’s overriding mission is to build awareness of STEM opportunities among her peers and inspire them to ignore widely held stereotypes about IT being a field for men only. Mentorship is her primary vehicle for realizing that goal.

“It’s important to have someone who has a little bit more experience than you to be able to guide you,” she says, especially when experiencing self-doubt. “When you have those moments where you’re trying to decide is this really for me, you have someone there who can lift you up or keep you motivated.”

The IT industry badly needs more mentors like Adams, according to Nancy Hammervik, CompTIA’s executive vice president for industry relations. “The generation behind us doesn’t necessarily see themselves in a career in tech,” said Hammervik during the awards ceremony.

Adams’s passion for technology began in middle school when she took an HTML/CSS coding class through Black Girls CODE, a non-profit that encourages interest in computer programming and other STEM topics among girls of color.

“I think the thing that kind of sparked my interest or kept me motivated was just to see how you could type in a few lines of information and then display something,” Adams recalls.

That experience led her, in collaboration with her mother, to form the first all-girl competitive robotics team in her community, which went on to win a regional championship. In 2017, Adams was one of 20 girls out of 1,400 applicants across the U.S. selected to participate in an international STEM fair in Malawi organized by the Women in Science unit of Girl Up, a group founded by the United Nations that promotes gender equality worldwide. Google, Intel, and NASA were among the attending sponsors of that gathering.

Adams will attend Georgia State University this fall. She plans to pursue a double major in computer science and artificial intelligence, with a minor in business. Her eventual goal is to open and operate a STEM school for students like herself.

Massengill, who currently leads a team of 46 Air Force personnel, won this year’s Mentorship Guide Award, which recognizes an individual who lifts up and promotes other women into leadership positions in the technology industry via mentoring and one-to-one network building. An active volunteer in her community, Massengill has earned two CompTIA certifications and a degree in information systems technology while on active duty.

Merritt, who is a cyberwarfare instructor for the Air Force, responsible for training more than 1,200 cyberwarfare intelligence analysts and cyber-defense personnel each year, received AWIT’s 2019 Industry Leadership Award. That honor goes to a woman leading the technology community through innovative ideas and engagement in both industry and local community activities. A former recipient of the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal, she devotes over 3,000 hours annually to non-profits in her community.†

Jones is the winner of this year’s Technical Pacesetter Award, which is presented to an individual with superior technical skills and a reputation in her organization and across the industry for exceptional customer or community service. She has mentored hundreds of girls and women, including fellow honoree Adams.

According to Hammervik, all four winners are exactly the kind of people the Spotlight Awards were created to celebrate and support. “One of the reasons a lot of folks don’t see themselves in a career in tech is because they don’t have enough role models,” she said this morning. “We wanted to recognize the women that are doing wonderful things in our industry.”

The scholarship award named after Galvin is designed to honor the memory of an industry leader who blazed a trail in IT for herself and was a passionate promoter of other women in technology. In addition to heading ChannelPro‘s editorial team for the magazine’s first decade, Galvin was the first female editor-in-chief of Popular Science magazine and the creator of that publication’s first news section about computers.

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