Valdosta State paves the way for women in computer science

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By: Emma Wheeler | WCTV Eyewitness News
December 16, 2019

VALDOSTA, Ga. (WCTV) -- One Valdosta State University graduate is following a road less traveled, hoping to open doors for more women in STEM.

Amanda Seaholtz, of Lake Park, is one of just a handful of young women graduating from Valdosta State with a computer science degree. But this high tech trade was a future she never saw coming.

"I originally was an art major, but I like the problem solving and creativity that computer science allows me to combine," Seaholtz said.

It's a field in which women are under represented. University officials said nationally, about 80 percent of computer science student are males, a statistic that's reflected at VSU.

It's also a statistic the university is working to change.

"We have to have the diversity of perspective in our field to be successful," said Krishnendu Roy, Head of the Computer Science Department at VSU. "That means our tech field needs women and other under represented minorities."

As one of the fastest growing departments, the computer science field and its graduates are in high demand.

University officials said computer science has nearly doubled its majors in the last five years. That growth is expected to continue, as the industry continues to top lists for high paying jobs.

In order to meet those needs, the department is starting new programs for students, like student clubs and activities, and hands on experiential learning opportunities.

The university is also helping get younger students involved in computer science.

Every high school in the state of Georgia will be required to offer computer science classes in the next three years.

"There are going to be big challenges related to health and economy that computer scientists are going to be there to solve," Roy said. "We feel like that's going to motivate more students to seek out computer science degrees compared to the last few years."

Seaholtz is hoping more young women will give computer science a chance.

"I think it's important for other girls to see me in these STEM classes, and not be turned away by the low numbers for girls," Seaholtz said.

The recent grad is planning on going to graduate school at Georgia Tech, studying how humans interact with computer science. She hopes to eventually work for NASA.

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