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Rowland Hall’s young women in computer science have continued their outstanding track record of earning accolades from the National Center for Women and Information Technology’s (NCWIT) Aspirations in Computing (AiC) annual awards program.

This year, six Winged Lions earned awards from our regional Northern Utah NCWIT Affiliate: senior Maddy Eatchel and junior Irenka Saffarian secured wins; sophomore Ane Hernandez and freshman Sophie Zheng earned honorable mentions; and junior Tianyi Su and freshman Claire Wang were named rising stars.

Our students’ AiC success is due in part to the efforts of computer science (CS) teacher Ben Smith ’89, himself a past winner of two educator honors at the affiliate level. Ben always encourages promising CS students to apply for the awards; this year, he’s glad that many still did, despite the challenges of the pandemic. “It’s really a testament to the school's dedication to make computer science, robotics, and technology an accessible and exciting option for all students,” the teacher said.

Senior Maddy Eatchel, an affiliate AiC winner, is now captain of our robotics team after helping to start the team last year. She wants to study CS in college, and is working on a research project applying machine learning to data in order to find new compounds for batteries.

This year’s recognized group from Rowland Hall skews younger than usual, and that bodes well for our CS program’s future, Ben said: students who receive higher levels of recognition typically apply for the awards two or more years in a row. For lone senior Maddy, a 2020 honorable mention recipient, this year’s win is a natural progression: she’s now captain of Rowland Hall’s robotics team after helping to start the team last year. She wants to study CS in college, and is currently working on a research project applying machine learning to data in order to find new compounds for batteries.

"Maddy took my intro to Java course on a whim as a sophomore, with very little interest other than the need to fill a class period," Ben said. "She has gone on to take my AP Java class, and to be an integral member of the new school robotics team, leading the team in a very challenging year."

Rowland Hall students will attend the regional affiliate’s virtual award ceremony on March 20. In addition to recognizing awardees, the ceremony will include a panel of college students and networking opportunities with women in the tech industry.

Ben started encouraging his students to enter the AiC awards back in 2014. Since then, 19 Winged Lions have earned a collective 25 awards, including one win and two honorable mentions at the national level. Under Ben’s leadership, Rowland Hall has been committed to ensuring all students—especially young women, who are underrepresented in computing careers—feel welcomed and supported in CS.

stem


Top image: The Rowland Hall robotics team at the Freedom Prep Academy FIRST Tech Challenge state qualifier in Provo, Utah, on March 13. From left to right: senior Yuchen Yang, sophomore Jordyn VanOrman, freshman Gabe Andrus, freshman Adam Saidykhan, senior captain and regional AiC winner Maddy Eatchel, senior Daniel Carlebach, and freshman Joey Lieskovan (cut off on the right edge).

Six Upper Schoolers Take Home Regional Aspirations in Computing Awards

Rowland Hall’s young women in computer science have continued their outstanding track record of earning accolades from the National Center for Women and Information Technology’s (NCWIT) Aspirations in Computing (AiC) annual awards program.

This year, six Winged Lions earned awards from our regional Northern Utah NCWIT Affiliate: senior Maddy Eatchel and junior Irenka Saffarian secured wins; sophomore Ane Hernandez and freshman Sophie Zheng earned honorable mentions; and junior Tianyi Su and freshman Claire Wang were named rising stars.

Our students’ AiC success is due in part to the efforts of computer science (CS) teacher Ben Smith ’89, himself a past winner of two educator honors at the affiliate level. Ben always encourages promising CS students to apply for the awards; this year, he’s glad that many still did, despite the challenges of the pandemic. “It’s really a testament to the school's dedication to make computer science, robotics, and technology an accessible and exciting option for all students,” the teacher said.

Senior Maddy Eatchel, an affiliate AiC winner, is now captain of our robotics team after helping to start the team last year. She wants to study CS in college, and is working on a research project applying machine learning to data in order to find new compounds for batteries.

This year’s recognized group from Rowland Hall skews younger than usual, and that bodes well for our CS program’s future, Ben said: students who receive higher levels of recognition typically apply for the awards two or more years in a row. For lone senior Maddy, a 2020 honorable mention recipient, this year’s win is a natural progression: she’s now captain of Rowland Hall’s robotics team after helping to start the team last year. She wants to study CS in college, and is currently working on a research project applying machine learning to data in order to find new compounds for batteries.

"Maddy took my intro to Java course on a whim as a sophomore, with very little interest other than the need to fill a class period," Ben said. "She has gone on to take my AP Java class, and to be an integral member of the new school robotics team, leading the team in a very challenging year."

Rowland Hall students will attend the regional affiliate’s virtual award ceremony on March 20. In addition to recognizing awardees, the ceremony will include a panel of college students and networking opportunities with women in the tech industry.

Ben started encouraging his students to enter the AiC awards back in 2014. Since then, 19 Winged Lions have earned a collective 25 awards, including one win and two honorable mentions at the national level. Under Ben’s leadership, Rowland Hall has been committed to ensuring all students—especially young women, who are underrepresented in computing careers—feel welcomed and supported in CS.

stem


Top image: The Rowland Hall robotics team at the Freedom Prep Academy FIRST Tech Challenge state qualifier in Provo, Utah, on March 13. From left to right: senior Yuchen Yang, sophomore Jordyn VanOrman, freshman Gabe Andrus, freshman Adam Saidykhan, senior captain and regional AiC winner Maddy Eatchel, senior Daniel Carlebach, and freshman Joey Lieskovan (cut off on the right edge).

Explore More Alumni Stories

Rowland Hall alumna, YWCA Utah volunteer, and teacher Monet Nielsen Maggelet ’14 with her husband, alum Drew Maggelet ’13.


Rowland Hall alumna—and longtime dedicated volunteer—Monet Nielsen Maggelet ’14 believes that the practice of giving back is transformative.

“Every time I’ve volunteered, I’ve gotten more out of it than I could ever give,” she said.

Since she was a young student, Monet has donated her time to organizations she cares about. And though she’s done this for several groups over the years, she’s been especially drawn to one: YWCA Utah, the Salt Lake City-based nonprofit whose mission is to eliminate racism, empower women, and promote peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all.

Monet remembers Rowland Hall as one important influence in the development of her love of volunteerism. “The Upper School puts a lot of emphasis on volunteering and giving back to your community,” she said.

“The first time I volunteered at YWCA Utah was during high school as part of a project for Kate Taylor's honors English class,” said Monet. “I volunteered with a group of friends to put together a fun event for families living at the shelter.”

In fact, Monet remembers Rowland Hall as one important influence in the development of her love of volunteerism—“The Upper School puts a lot of emphasis on volunteering and giving back to your community,” she said—and that initial experience at YWCA Utah inspired her to continue to support the organization. During college, she led an outreach Girl Scout troop for girls at the shelter, while also studying elementary education, history, and English as a second language (ESL). And after graduation, Monet said, she continued to feel a pull toward the organization, though she wasn’t sure how she could help while navigating the demands of a newly minted teacher.

“I wanted to do something, but it was hard for me to spend as many hours volunteering as a first-year and second-year teacher,” Monet said.

Still, she reached out to the nonprofit to explore ways she could give back, and in 2020 was offered a spot on YWCA Utah’s Board of Directors, which she joined in August of that year. Monet said it’s an honor to be asked to serve in this role and to have the chance to collaborate with YWCA Utah’s Chief Executive Officer Liz Owens, Chief Mission Impact Officer Saundra Stokes, and their team.

“They’re really leading YWCA Utah to make sure the eliminating racism part of our mission is fulfilled,” she said, “and they are always thinking critically about how to have an antiracist lens.”

I don’t think you can ever educate yourself too much. I am continuing to learn and I’m still on my own path, and I know that path is neverending.—Monet Nielsen Maggelet ’14

Monet is also contributing to these conversations: in addition to attending full-board meetings, she sits on two of the board’s committees, Public Policy and Racial Equity and Social Justice, where she lends her experiences, particularly as an educator, to help YWCA Utah fulfill its mission. Monet was even invited to share her perspective on this necessary work in a video the organization recently created for its Stronger Together campaign (see above), which celebrates 115 years of the nonprofit’s service in Utah.

“I truly believe that it’s my duty to be an advocate for all of my students,” Monet said in the video. “I want all of my students of color to know I am working to educate myself and to stand up for them.”

Monet invites members of the Rowland Hall community to also help support this important work: she recommends joining YWCA Utah’s 21-Day Racial Equity & Social Justice Challenge, which begins June 21 and will lead participants on a journey around the core concepts on race equity so that they can have the necessary conversations that will contribute toward making Utah a safer place for everyone.

“I don’t think you can ever educate yourself too much,” Monet said. “I am continuing to learn and I’m still on my own path, and I know that path is neverending.”


Banner photo: Monet with her husband, fellow Rowland Hall alum Drew Maggelet ’13.

Alumni

Alum comedian Jamie Pierce

Alum Jamie Pierce ’98 thrives in all sorts of spotlights: he’s a classically trained dancer with theatre credits galore, and as a comedian, he was named a Laugh Factory top-10 national emerging comic and has opened for industry legends such as Wanda Sykes and Janeane Garofalo.

Now, Jamie—who honed his performing arts skills on our Larimer Center stage—will grace Rowland Hall’s virtual stage to host our April 17 stand-up comedy auction benefiting school financial aid, faculty professional development, and our ongoing COVID-19 response.

What a thrill to now be master of ceremonies for such a glamorous event! And this year it’s taking place in the most glittering venue of them all—my living room.—Jamie Pierce ’98

“When I was in high school, I remember being jealous of the adults who got to dress up fancy and attend the auction,” Jamie said. “What a thrill to now be master of ceremonies for such a glamorous event! And this year it’s taking place in the most glittering venue of them all—my living room.”

We can’t wait for Jamie—aided by a few other hilarious community members—to crack us up for a good cause. Visit our auction webpage to read more and get ready to STAND UP Rowland Hall on April 17.

Jamie Pierce's Biography

After graduating from Rowland Hall, Jamie began his career as a classically trained dancer (BFA, ballet, University of Utah) performing with the Utah Ballet Company before moving to New York where he appeared in The Music Man and Broadway Dances. Other professional theatre credits include Carousel, Dreamgirls, Urinetown, and The Wild Party, as well as Evita, Phantom, and Peter Pan with Utah’s Pioneer Theatre Company. In 2019, he received an Ovation Award nomination for his performance in the Los Angeles production of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, and most recently created the role of “Frank” in the world-premier play, Embridge. As a comedian, he was selected as a Laugh Factory top-10 national emerging comic and was featured in the New York Comedy Festival at Caroline’s on Broadway. He has performed as the opening act for notable comedy legends including Wanda Sykes and Janeane Garofalo. On screen, Jamie can be seen as the title role in the film festival favorite Bill (2021) as well as the lead in the music video for “Just Party” by hip-hop artist Supanova Galaxy. He has also appeared in numerous TV commercials. Jamie is host of the top-rated podcast Hello, Gorgeous! (#43 on iTunes). He currently lives in Los Angeles.

auction

Rowland Hall's robotics team.

Rowland Hall’s young women in computer science have continued their outstanding track record of earning accolades from the National Center for Women and Information Technology’s (NCWIT) Aspirations in Computing (AiC) annual awards program.

This year, six Winged Lions earned awards from our regional Northern Utah NCWIT Affiliate: senior Maddy Eatchel and junior Irenka Saffarian secured wins; sophomore Ane Hernandez and freshman Sophie Zheng earned honorable mentions; and junior Tianyi Su and freshman Claire Wang were named rising stars.

Our students’ AiC success is due in part to the efforts of computer science (CS) teacher Ben Smith ’89, himself a past winner of two educator honors at the affiliate level. Ben always encourages promising CS students to apply for the awards; this year, he’s glad that many still did, despite the challenges of the pandemic. “It’s really a testament to the school's dedication to make computer science, robotics, and technology an accessible and exciting option for all students,” the teacher said.

Senior Maddy Eatchel, an affiliate AiC winner, is now captain of our robotics team after helping to start the team last year. She wants to study CS in college, and is working on a research project applying machine learning to data in order to find new compounds for batteries.

This year’s recognized group from Rowland Hall skews younger than usual, and that bodes well for our CS program’s future, Ben said: students who receive higher levels of recognition typically apply for the awards two or more years in a row. For lone senior Maddy, a 2020 honorable mention recipient, this year’s win is a natural progression: she’s now captain of Rowland Hall’s robotics team after helping to start the team last year. She wants to study CS in college, and is currently working on a research project applying machine learning to data in order to find new compounds for batteries.

"Maddy took my intro to Java course on a whim as a sophomore, with very little interest other than the need to fill a class period," Ben said. "She has gone on to take my AP Java class, and to be an integral member of the new school robotics team, leading the team in a very challenging year."

Rowland Hall students will attend the regional affiliate’s virtual award ceremony on March 20. In addition to recognizing awardees, the ceremony will include a panel of college students and networking opportunities with women in the tech industry.

Ben started encouraging his students to enter the AiC awards back in 2014. Since then, 19 Winged Lions have earned a collective 25 awards, including one win and two honorable mentions at the national level. Under Ben’s leadership, Rowland Hall has been committed to ensuring all students—especially young women, who are underrepresented in computing careers—feel welcomed and supported in CS.

stem


Top image: The Rowland Hall robotics team at the Freedom Prep Academy FIRST Tech Challenge state qualifier in Provo, Utah, on March 13. From left to right: senior Yuchen Yang, sophomore Jordyn VanOrman, freshman Gabe Andrus, freshman Adam Saidykhan, senior captain and regional AiC winner Maddy Eatchel, senior Daniel Carlebach, and freshman Joey Lieskovan (cut off on the right edge).

Alum Nicholas Miller '14 in Southern Utah, where he and former classmate Camille Backman '14 created their album.

by Heather Ernst ’14

Among the chorus of duetting birds deep in the canyons of Southern Utah, a new duet is echoing off the red sandstone walls. Nicholas Miller ’14 and Camille Backman ’14 have traveled hundreds of miles to be here, on sacred land, and their purpose is a special one: to make music.

This pair’s story began nearly 12 years ago, when Nicholas joined the Rowland Hall community as a middle schooler. Since then, he and Camille have developed a deep friendship around their love for Southern Utah; their shared interest in activism and volunteering, which was nurtured during their time at the school; and their predilection for playing music, sometimes together (when the stars, and their schedules, align).

From a young age, both Nicholas and Camille have had an infectious passion for music. Nicholas found that love playing the guitar, mainly focusing on jazz, but he’s no stranger to experimentation: he’s done everything from play in rock bands to study the sitar in India. Camille, a classically trained violinist, has spent a great deal of her life dedicated to mastering her skills and perfecting her sound. Both have found a great deal of joy in collaborating together and with other musicians, something they’ve done since high school.

“We actually played a duet together at graduation,” revealed Nicholas. “That was the first formal time that we played together.”

Camille Backman and Nicholas Miller playing at their 2014 graduation.

Camille and Nicholas playing at their 2014 Rowland Hall graduation.

After graduation, both continued their study of music, Nicholas at the Lamont Jazz School at the University of Denver and Camille at the Oberlin Conservatory in Ohio. Although the pair has been hundreds of miles apart—most recently on two separate continents, as Camille is now working on her master’s degree in Brussels, Belgium—they have always maintained their relationship as friends and musical partners.

“I would say each year that we’ve met up since high school we inevitably have some sort of jam session,” laughed Camille. “It’s so natural—when we spend time together, usually music is somehow being made.”

In fact, their musical connection is so natural that they managed to create their new album, For Other Waters Are Ever Flowing, without even knowing it, while traveling together through Southern Utah in summer 2020.

“I didn’t actually know that we were recording an album when we did it,” chuckled Nicholas, but the creativity flowed and “it ended up being an album’s worth of music.”

For Other Waters Are Ever Flowing consists entirely of improvised music between the violin and guitar, as well as the natural sounds of each location Nicholas and Camille visited during that trip. “Our aim was to find places in Utah with acoustic qualities that we were interested in,” explained Camille.

It became clear to the pair that this project could be a way for them to help spread awareness about the importance of the sacred indigenous lands that spread for miles across the desert of Southern Utah.

Location was a key aspect of this project. Both musicians had previous interest in Southern Utah after having traveled there numerous times growing up. And as they returned in summer 2020 as young adults and spent more time exploring the area’s spaces—rappelling into canyons with their instruments and recording materials strapped to their backs—their interests expanded from acoustic qualities to the history behind those spaces. It became clear to the pair that this project could be a way for them to help spread awareness about the importance of the sacred indigenous lands that spread for miles across the desert of Southern Utah. 

“Part of sharing this album is a way that we can protect indigenous lands while also making them accessible to people,” explained Camille. “Regardless of where you are in the world, you can listen and connect to Utah.”

As the pair explained, they were “trying to communicate with their roots and grapple with homecoming, leaving, returning, and belonging” through this music. Upon entering these wild spaces that mean so much to them, the music allowed for moments of connection with the ecological and cultural histories of the places. Listeners of the album have this experience too. It begins to feel as if the instruments are speaking to you: with each strum of the guitar and bow of the violin, you can feel yourself moving through the canyons, developing a new sense of consciousness and connection to those who lived there before. The abstract blending of sound, ecology, and activism make for an album that speaks to the history of the space in which it was recorded. And the most interesting part of the album is that it cannot be recreated—and it’s not meant to be.

Camille Backman '14 in a slot canyon.

“The music on the album can only happen in certain locations, in the moment it was created,” Camille explained. 

Looking back on her musical career, Camille credits Rowland Hall for giving her the space to build strong relationships. “Rowland Hall does an excellent job of allowing you to develop your interpersonal skills with your mentors and peers,” she reflected. 

Both Nicholas and Camille also credit their mentors from Rowland Hall in preparing them for life’s challenges. “I would definitely have to shout-out to Kody Partridge and Dr. Hickman,” Nicholas said. “Both of their classes made me a better thinker, which has connected to art and creativity for sure.” 

Nicholas and Camille will continue their creative pursuits: Nicholas is currently applying to graduate programs, where he will further his studies in music, and Camille is in her third and final year of her master of music program in Brussels. Looking forward, Nicholas and Camille are anxious and excited to be back on the same continent where they can create more music and collaborate on future projects.


Album art of %22For Other Waters Are Ever Flowing.%22

   Courtesy Bridget Hartman

After many hours of collaboration, as well as editing from two different continents, and with the help of Anthony Peña (mixing) and Bridget Hartman (album artwork), Nicholas and Camille are proud to share For Other Waters Are Ever Flowing. Those interested in buying the album can do so through BandCamp, and 50% of the proceeds will go to Utah Diné Bikéyah, an alliance between the five native tribes of Utah who strive to preserve and protect the cultural and natural resources of ancestral Native American lands to benefit and bring healing to the people and the earth. The album is also available on Spotify, YouTube Music, and Apple Music.

Alumni

You Belong at Rowland Hall