White House Honors Former Hampton Roads Student

By: J. Blackwell

North Carolina A&T junior Angelica Willis is one of nine individuals who have been recognized by the White House as a Champion of Change for Computer Science Education. The program featured remarks from President Obama’s senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, Acting Secretary of Education John King, and more.

“Being selected as a Champion of Change for Computer Science Education is an amazing honor that celebrates my accomplishments thus far, but I also see it as a call to action to continue working towards my goals for my education, research, and community outreach surrounding computer science,“ she told the messenger.

Willis is no stranger to White House recognition, as she is currently a student ambassador through the White House Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) All-Stars program, but the Champion of Change recognition is noteworthy.

“This honor is particularly rewarding for me because I would like to inspire the next generation of women and minorities in computer science,” she said.

Willis traveled to Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, Jan. 28 to be honored by the White house for her leadership in expanding computer science education.

Being considered a leader in computer science is something that Willis takes very seriously.

“Leadership to me means, being a role model for future student innovators,” she said.

As a computer science major, Willis has maintained academic excellence with a perfect 4.0 grade point average at North Carolina A&T. She maintains her passion about school because she is determined to be the best that she possibly can.

“I am very driven and passionate about getting the most out of my education,and ultimately my life. I am an achiever because I settle for nothing less,” she said.

Outside of the classroom, Willis has applied her leadership skills as a University Innovation Fellow at Stanford, Bank of America intern, and an Apple HBCU Scholar. She led a project in which her group placed second in the Ford HBCU Community Challenge. She has also interned with NASA, where she worked on ecological forecasting research with space satellites to support reforestation in Rwanda.

“Computer science is crucial to innovation in all disciplines of STEM. Everything from the mapping of the human genome and 3D modeling, to space travel and driverless car technology, relies heavily on software engineering and data science. I want to become the type of computer scientist who contributes to ambitious, exploratory and ground-breaking projects that positively and dramatically affect the technological advancement of mankind,” she said.

Willis will continue to pave her way to success this summer as an Apple

Scholar at the company’s headquarters in Cupertino, CA.

“I look forward to contributing and learning as much as possible,” Willis said.