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Blaine High School’s Hana Tadesse wins Donaldson Science Award

Hana Tadesse wins Donald STEM Award Blaine High School (BHS) senior Hana Tadesse loves computer coding — writing computer software and apps.

“Coding allows me to build my own world and create my own rules — a space to let my imagination flow freely,” she said. “There's just something exciting and relieving in coding.”

And thanks to her love and passion for coding, she’s excelled at it. So much so that Hana is one of four students from around the state to win a 2018 Donaldson STEM Award, which recognizes students of color who have demonstrated outstanding skills in science. Hana was recognized Jan. 13 at the Science Museum of Minnesota during the African Americans in Science event.

“This award means a lot to me,” Hana said. “It proves to me that my journey to discovering my passion for coding was worth all my effort.”

Hana was first introduced to coding during her sophomore year at BHS, where she was a member of the Center for Engineering, Math and Science (CEMS) program at the school. She said she realized then how passionate she was for coding, but was afraid to accept that computer science (CS) was a career she could pursue as an African American woman.

But Hana’s curiosity and passion for coding led her to explore her interest in CS further. Before her junior year, she participated in Facebook’s “Girls Who Code” summer immersion program, where her team built an interactive mobile app to bring awareness to the homeless experience in America. This year, as a senior, Hana is taking CS courses at the University of Minnesota as a PSEO student.

“Through continued exposure to CS and surrounding myself with other incredible girls who code, I have become fearless in my pursuit of CS. I realize that CS is a place for women and people of color as it is for others,” she said. “(And) receiving the Donaldson STEM Award shows me that I have the support and encouragement of my community to continue pursuing CS.”

The Donaldson STEM Award includes a $500 scholarship and a free, one-year household membership to the Science Museum of Minnesota.

“The $500 scholarship I get from the award takes a huge burden off of me and my mother as it will cover some upcoming college fees,” said Hana, who has already been accepted into Stanford University through the school’s early action deadline. At Stanford, she says she’ll major in CS with a focus on communication and security. She is particularly interested in exploring security practices in third world countries and in devising a way to provide proper security and equal protection rights to all people.

“I think computers are fascinating — if we communicate with them correctly and very carefully, we can produce some of the best things possible. There is no limit to what we can code up,” she said.

For now, Hana is focusing on wrapping up her senior year. She currently serves as a peer mentor through the Bengal Pride Leaders program, and is an active member of the BHS service learning club, Bengals in Action.

But she’s also excited for the future.

“I'm just excited to see where my next adventure lies,” she said. “And I hope that if there is any girl out there interested in coding, don't be afraid to code and create your world.”