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This is really important because it takes diverse approaches in thinking to solve complex problems.

Marcey Hoover
director of the energy and homeland security program management center at Sandia

Editor's note: this was originally posted on Sandia National Laboratories' website.

Sandia recently honored 26 young women from California high schools in Tri-Valley, East Bay and San Joaquin County at the annual Sandia Women’s Connection Math & Science Awards. The honorees were nominated by their teachers for outstanding accomplishments in STEM. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the students and their families participated in the awards ceremony virtually.

Hosted at the Labs’ Livermore campus, the annual awards program helps introduce young women to the many careers available to them and highlights opportunities available through the Sandia internship program. Award winners also are paired with female scientists, engineers and mathematicians at Sandia who are available for mentoring as the students enter college and explore future careers in STEM fields.

“We are proud of you because we know that the accomplishments that brought you here require perseverance and determination,” said Marcey Hoover, director of the energy and homeland security program management center at Sandia.

“Continue following your passion for math and science. We desperately need more women in these fields,” she said, adding that women remain underrepresented in many key science and engineering fields.

“Through young women like you, we will continue to make strides in having more diverse mathematicians, engineers and scientists. This is really important because it takes diverse approaches in thinking to solve complex problems.”

Spark of inspiration

Sarah Allendorf, director of the chemistry, combustion and materials center at Sandia also addressed award winners, encouraging them as they pursue future education and careers in math and science.

“You are here because you are part of that rare and wonderful group of students who have found a spark of inspiration in math and science. I hope today’s celebration of your accomplishments and passion feeds that spark and brings you encouragement. I can’t wait to hear about your future successes.”

Local elected officials also participated in the recognition event via prerecorded remarks.

California State Assemblywoman Rebecca Bauer-Kahan of Orinda encouraged the young women in their future pursuits.

“Women often bring a different and important perspective to their work, and we all benefit from that,” she said. “We will continue to need your bright minds to join the ranks (of STEM fields) and help solve some of society’s hardest challenges.”

U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell also congratulated award winners.

“The number of women in science and engineering is, thankfully, finally growing, but the scarcity of women in STEM fields is a persisting problem. We need you,” he said. “That’s why I’m so excited to offer my sincere congratulations to all of you. You have shown that anything you set your minds to, you can achieve, and that no obstacle can prevent you from future success.”

Following the virtual ceremony, award recipients had an opportunity to connect one-on-one with female mentors at Sandia to ask questions and discuss their academic plans and careers in STEM.

Outstanding Achievement in Mathematics Winners



Ekaterina Osipova, Amador Valley High School

Kiara Kelly-Montoya, Castlemont High School

Lilly Jiang, Dublin High School

Andrea Cheng, Foothill High School

Tida Ngov, Granada High School

Cristina Pineda Carranza, Lathrop High School

Paige Felkins, Lincoln High School

Nevaeh Thompson, Merrill F. West High School

Emma Brown, Millennium Charter High School

Jaquelen Gómez, Oakland High School

Christy Ko, Oakland Technical High School

Samantha Ivey, Skyline High School

Natasha Rodriguez-Zanuto, Tracy High School

Outstanding Achievement in Science

Jocelyn Zhu, Amador Valley High School

Audrey Kwan, Dublin High School

Pooja Mehta, Foothill High School

Emily Macias, Granada High School

Tricia Mae Albano, Lathrop High School

Isabella Costigliolo, Lincoln High School

Manvitha Nandamuri, Livermore High School

Shannon Le, Manteca High School

Zeenat Entezar, Millennium Charter High School

Sahityasree Subramanian, Mountain House High School

Mia Pollard, Oakland High School

Samantha Ivey, Skyline High School

Mysha Mamsa, Tracy High School