Oyster River High School Student One of 40 Nationwide to Receive National Award in Computing

Kelly Zhang '23 accepting the 2023 NCWIT award

DURHAM — Superintendent James Morse and Principal Rebecca Noe are pleased to share that an Oyster River High School student is one of 40 students nationwide, and the only student in New Hampshire, to be recognized for achievements in the field of computing.

Senior Kelly Zhang of Durham has received the Award for Aspirations in Computing, awarded by the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT). The award recognizes students in Grades 9-12 who identify as women, genderqueer, or non-binary, for their computing-related achievements.

In 2021, Zhang was a New Hampshire Affiliate winner, and was one of several hundred students to win an honorable mention award nationally. This year she is one of just 40 students to win the national award.

The National Center for Women & Information Technology is a non-profit community of nearly 1,500 universities, companies, non-profits, and government organizations nationwide working to increase the influential and meaningful participation of girls and women in the field of computing, particularly in innovation and development.

“Recognition as a national recipient of the Aspirations in Computing award is an incredible honor,” Zhang said. “The future I want to build is diverse and equitable. Together, I believe we can create gender equity in tech. I could not be where I am today without the support of my family, friends, teachers, and the entire Oyster River community, so I hope to extend this accomplishment equally to all.”

Zhang started her journey into computing when she joined her school’s robotics club in 5th grade and taught herself how to code. In the 2020-2021 season, Zhang assumed the role of Lead Programmer on her VEX robotics teams which placed first in New Hampshire and qualified for Worlds. Beyond robotics, Kelly competes on the gold level of the USA Computing Olympiad.

In addition to her own interest in technology, Kelly is a believer in sharing her passions. For three years she has volunteered at computing-related summer camps. She was invited to serve as a camp counselor for the University of New Hampshire’s EPIC camp, in person and virtually in 2020, and has assisted as a judge and commentator during robotics events.

As a sophomore, Zhang formed a group at Oyster River High School for students interested in computing, especially girls, with help from Computer Science Teacher Cathi Stetson. One member gave the group its name: The CodeRunners. Club members code games, create websites, develop apps, and compete in hackathons. They recently gained national recognition via induction into the National Computer Science Honor Society.

Kelly was accepted early into the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in December 2022 and in March 2023, she traveled to Charlotte, N.C., to attend the National Award Ceremony where she had the opportunity to accept her award and meet current and previous winners.

“We are extremely proud of Kelly and her achievements,” said Principal Noe. “She holds herself to high expectations and works hard to meet them. She is also someone who gives back to others. Whether it is starting the CodeRunners or tutoring 80 students, for free, for the SAT and PSATs, Kelly wants to help all students achieve. We can’t wait to see what she else she accomplishes in her future. I also would like to thank Cathi Stetson, Kelly’s computer science teacher, for her remarkable support.”

“Kelly is a bright example of academic excellence and community service,” said Superintendent Morse. “She has demonstrated her leadership in the STEM fields and her dedication to creating an inclusive and bright future for all students.”