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Jun 02, 2021

Shachi Benara Wins a 2021 NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing

By Lori Draz

Shachi Benara received an award of commendation from the Middletown Board of Education for winning first place in TSA promotional design competition and honorable mention in NCWIT.

Shachi Benara, a senior at Middletown High School South, was recently named a recipient of the Honorable Mention for the 2021 National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) award for aspirations in computing.

The NCWIT selected Benara’s application from more than 4,200 applications from all 50 states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam overseas military bases and Canada. Award recipients are selected based on their aptitude and aspirations in technology and computing, as demonstrated by their computing experience, computing-related activities, leadership experience, tenacity in the face of barriers to access, and plans for post-secondary education.

The National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) is a nonprofit community that convenes, equips and unites change leader organizations to increase the influential and meaningful participation of girls and women in the field of computing, particularly in terms of innovation and development. 

“I am so grateful to have won this honor from the NCWIT for work in a field I love,” Benara said. “I thank them for this honor and for my gifts including computing resources, gadgets, a trophy and a $5,000 scholarship.” 

In addition, Benara won first place at NJ Technology Student Association for the Promotion Design contest across all of New Jersey. She said she feels honored to represent her school and state during nationwide finals.

She has recently been chosen by her school’s computer science department to receive the Technologist Student Award, given to high-achieving students in Technology by William Skinner at Bloomberg.com.

Benara will be pursuing a career in computer science, majoring in the areas of user experience and design. She is an intern and staff member at Code Ninja, where she teaches younger kids while enhancing her skills in multiple languages such as Java, Scratch, Python, HTML/CSS, Visual Basic and JavaScript. Technology has played a key role in Benara’s life. Born deaf, a cochlear implant now helps her hear. It fascinates her that such a small device can change lives, and this led to her interest in computer science. 

She started a free coding club in the Middletown library for younger kids, “Coding with Shachi,” which aims to mentor kids to find their passion for technology while providing a fun outlet. 

She is president of the Tech Tutor club at school and also a member of Girls Who Code. When she is not coding, Benara spends time exploring and expressing human emotion through her paintings and sketches, one of which was recently displayed in Brookdale Community College. 

Benara just committed to the University of Massachusetts Amherst College of Information and Computer Sciences.