One of the Intertech Foundation’s focuses is the inspiration of young people towards the building of science, engineering, and technology skills. To further that pursuit, the Foundation has selected four STEM scholarship winners for 2020, each excelling in Math and Science, just graduated from high school, and pursuing college studies in computer science.
Amazed by the drive, inspiration, and accomplishments of these young individuals, picking among so many qualified applicants is always a struggle. But this year’s selection took on additional meaning for us. Amidst COVID-19, the 2020 graduating class has faced numerous challenges and unprecedented situations. Yet despite it all, what came through in reading all of the applications was an unwavering excitement to take the next step and an unfailing commitment to pursue their goals. We all could learn a thing or two on resilience from this group of seniors, and we can’t wait to see where these qualities take them!
Our first two recipients, Emily Dahl and Sulaiman Bada have begun their journey. Next, we send off our third and fourth STEM scholarship winners; Annabelle Klosterman from South Dakota, and Reece Harding from Minnesota. Check out these ambitious, hard-working citizens that have stepped up and are now on their way to making this world a better place.
Congratulations to Annabelle Klosterman
Annabelle, a senior graduate of Lighthouse Academy in Brandon, South Dakota, stood out to us for her outstanding accomplishments and extra-curricular experiences. Not only did Annabelle receive the “Aspirations in Computing” award from the National Center for Women & Information Technology four years in a row, but she was also Civil Air Patrol “Cadet of the Year” in 2019, a CyberPatriot XI and XII National Finalist twice, received the United States Air Force Auxiliary “Commander’s Commendation” three years in a row, a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu adult blue belt and instructor to younger students, and so much more. Achieving 21 college credits while still in high school, we are so proud to present the Intertech STEM scholarship to such an outstanding person as Annabelle pursues her education in cybersecurity security at Dakota State University.
Q: When did you first decide you wanted to be involved in Computer Science, particularly cybersecurity?
I first decided that the cybersecurity field was for me after competing in CyberPatriot – The Air Force Association’s National Youth Cyber Competition. Teams take in the position of newly hired IT professionals tasked with managing the network of a small company. Through a series of competition rounds, teams are given a set of virtual operating systems and tasked with finding and fixing cybersecurity vulnerabilities while maintaining critical services.With the help of my coach, technical mentors, and peers, I’ve increased my knowledge and skills to help my team advance in the competition. For the past two years, my team was one of 13 teams to earn their way to the National Finals. It was a transformational experience preparing for the competition, which stressed the importance of diversifying and collaborating with others. Working with those who have different experiences and perspectives can provide new insight, allowing us to solve various challenges. This competition has had a tremendous impact on me and my teammates as it helped us acquire new skills and also educate each other in the process.
Q: What was the first program you ever wrote?
My first program was a basic addition calculator in C for a computer science class I took in high school. My first coding experience was writing in HTML for my website.
Q: Which educational or extracurricular experiences during your k-12 years helped you decide on the field of Computer Science?
Outside of CyberPatriot, I was one of 5 US females selected to participate in the Future Cybersecurity Leaders Exchange program – a US Embassy London fully-funded program providing cybersecurity education and experiences. During the program, I traveled to London, Bristol, Washington DC, and Southern California for training seminars, interactive group activities, hands-on practical training, cybersecurity-related site visits, and cultural activities. I had the opportunity to meet and network with cybersecurity professionals working at US and UK government agencies, universities/research institutions, and private sector companies.Additionally, I gained real-world experience by obtaining a position as an Information Systems Assistant at a data center that supports multiple banks throughout Minnesota. I work with the Security Analyst and Network Administrator on company projects, perform daily operations and maintenance of the mainframe, and various other duties. Throughout my experiences, it became clear to me that I had a passion for the field of cybersecurity.
Q: What school have you selected to attend?
Dakota State University
Q: Why did you decide on this school for your undergraduate education?
Although a smaller university, Dakota State’s cyber programs have been in the top programs nationally. Through their outreach, activities, internships, and more, they provide opportunities for learning and career growth.
Q: What is your dream job after college?
While I don’t have a specific dream job, I aspire to be a leader in the cybersecurity field and empower others to have an impact on the safety of our country’s future. My goal is to be in a position that changes the way people view and handle security, for their protection and safety, and the benefit of everyone.
Q: Would you be willing to share your thoughts about the value of the Intertech STEM scholarship to your academic journey?
With the support of individuals and organizations like Intertech, I hope to impact our youth, improve companies, and better ensure the safety of our country. As a recent high school graduate, I am blown away with the positive support I have been receiving for pursuing my passion for STEM.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to share with others who may be considering a computer science career?
Talk to others and explore the opportunities that are out there! There are a lot of people out there who are willing to help youth. Talking and learning from those who are in the field has been helping in deciding my career. Through my conversations with others, I have found that the field of technology is much larger than I had initially thought. There are thousands of jobs out there that focus on different aspects of technology.
Q: Finally, please tell us about your favorite experience with the Civil Air Patrol?
I have been a member of Civil Air Patrol – an auxiliary of the United States Air Force and a non-profit organization – and currently hold the rank of Cadet Lieutenant Colonel, the second-highest cadet rank. Through my years in the program and serving in numerous positions, my favorite experience has been being able to lead and mentor others. It has been inspirational to see the personal and professional growth from others.
Thank you, Annabelle, for applying for the Intertech STEM Scholarship. We look forward to hearing about many great things from you in the future!
Tom and Linda Salonek
Intertech Foundation, Intertech Inc.
2021 Intertech STEM Scholarship Recipients3>
2020 Intertech STEM Scholarship Recipients3>
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