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Majors & Degrees

Bangston named Google Women Techmakers Scholar winner

May 23, 2017

Dakota State University student Leah Bangston has been named a Google Women Techmakers Scholar for 2017. The senior cyber operations major was one of 20 women across the nation who won the $10,000 scholarship, which is awarded on academic performance, leadership and impact on the community of women in technology.

The Google-sponsored scholarship program focuses on creating gender equality in computer science by encouraging women to excel in computing and technology and become active leaders and role models in the field. Dr. Ashley Podhradsky, DSU associate professor of digital forensics and information assurance, was a Google Scholarship finalist in 2008.

“Leah is president of the DSU CybHER Club (a club for women students majoring in computer fields) and is a positive role model for others,” said Podhradsky. Bangston assists with many CybHER Club events and the annual DSU GenCyber girls camps. “Her tenacity, intelligence and positive attitude are a driving force,” Podhradsky added.

Bangston agrees that tenacity is an important character trait for women in computing fields, along with “motivation and follow-through,” qualities she developed in her three years at DSU. Her advice to other women studying computer science degrees is to “get out of your comfort zone and raise your hand in class.”

A resident of Hartford, S.D., she started her college career at Southeast Technical Institute, but discovered she needed a bachelor’s degree to work in a high-level government job, which is her career goal. After researching her options, she said “DSU won by far.”

The Techmakers Scholarship will free Bangston from the constraints of working during the school year and provide additional opportunities to connect with other scholars and Google mentors. She will also gain access to an online network offering resources, support and collaboration.

“It is wonderful to see our DSU women being recognized nationally for their hard work and dedication. Leah will continue to elevate our programs and reputation,” Podhradsky said, a statement proven true by another recognition Bangston recently received. 

She was chosen this spring as one of 12 new DSU Cyber Corps Scholarship students. This program provides tuition and fees, a stipend, professional development funding, a paid summer internship, and a guaranteed security job following graduation. The program is renewable for three years, which will take Bangston through her senior undergraduate year and the two years of schooling needed for her master’s degree.

Prior to learning about being chosen for the CyberCorps program, Bangston was also hired for a 12-week internship this summer with the Department of Defense.

Learn more about the Google scholarship at https://www.womentechmakers.com/scholars/previous and the Cyber Corps program at http://dsu.edu/academics/academic-opportunities/cyber-corps.