Alyssa Portela, 18, was recently recognized for her skill in computing and technology by the National Center for Women and Information Technology.
The St. John teen received the recognition at the 2014 Indiana Affiliate NCWIT Awards for Aspirations in Computing.
In addition, Portela was a runner-up for the 2013 Indiana Award Competition and is a runner-up in 2014 NCWIT national competition. She is also eligible to become a mentor for the NCWIT middle school outreach program, Aspire IT.
“It really does make a difference to know there are other girls out there who share the same interests as you, because sometimes you just feel different or, mostly, super nerdy,” Portela said .
As a member of the Business Professionals of America, Portela competed last year as the only female in an Indiana computer programming competition and placed fifth out of 150 students.
“When I arrived at the computer lab to compete, the proctor did a double take and asked me in front of everyone, ‘Are you supposed to be here?’”
“It was an innocent question, but I was mortified. I was the first girl he had seen all day. All these guys looked so confident in themselves, which I wasn’t. I honestly felt like I didn’t have a chance of winning.”
The daughter of Alfonso and Annmarie Portela, she is a senior at Lake Central High School, maintains a 4.0 grade point average on a scale of 4.0 and plans to attend Cornell University to study computer science.
“I would love to work as a video game developer. My programming teacher, Mrs. Chavez, inspired me,” Portela said. “She’s an amazing teacher and everyone loves her. She is the one who told me to take programming classes and it changed my life.”
Portela enjoys exploring the creative side of computing in her free time. “My family’s a tech family. I love programming, but I also love the artsy side of technology. I love to draw my own pictures and edit them and bring them to life with Photoshop and animation.”