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JMU sophomore advocate invited to White House

Winning a national award for her high school accomplishments in information technology has opened a lot of doors for a JMU sophomore.

On Dec. 9, that achievement opened the doors of the White House, where computer science major Marissa Halpert attended the “Champions of Change Event: Women & Girls in STEM.”

The event, held in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, honored those who are “winning the future by helping to recruit girls and retain women in science, technology, engineering and math fields,” according to the invitation Halpert received.

At the event, agency representatives and White House policy offices led a discussion focused on amplifying best practices learned in each area.

Halpert, who co-founded a “Girls of Computer Information Technology” club at Deep Run High School in Henrico County and is a member of the Women in Technology organization at JMU, said the White House event was “an amazing experience. It was extremely inspiring and exciting to be included.”

Halpert, the 2010 winner of the Award for Aspirations in Computing given by the National Center for Women & Information Technology, said women need to know that “technology is not just sitting behind a computer and writing code all day. It effects all parts of our lives and it’s changing every day and that’s exciting. You can make a difference in people’s lives.”

Halpert said there is a high demand for women in STEM careers because women bring a different perspective and problem solving ability than their male counterparts.

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