Center for Minorities and People with Disabilities in Information Technology
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  April  2020
Volume 10, Issue 4
Welcome to the April 2020 issue of the CMD-IT newsletter.  This month we are celebrating the Professors in our community that are enabling students to continue their studies.  We are very grateful to all of you for doing this critical work.  We are also grateful to everyone on our program committees who are supporting the Tapia Conference by reviewing all of our program and scholarship submissions.

Highlighted in this issue are our Tapia Conference Scholarship Committee leaders Nicki Washington, Christian Grant and Samuel Rebelsky.  Each discusses  the paths their careers have taken and their very special relationships with the Tapia Conference.  We are also pleased to highlight Professor Pablo Rivas who has created a unique way for his data science students to help in the Coronavirus crisis.

A quick reminder - the 2020  Tapia University Award Application deadline is June 1st.  We encourage all Universities to participate in this program.

We are pleased to announce that the Tapia Resume Database is now open. 

We would like to remind everyone that May 5th is #GivingTuesdayNow.  This is a day for people around the world to come together to support nonprofits.  We invite you to participate and support CMD-IT by donating to us on May 5th.  We also encourage you to sign up for AmazonSmile and designate CMD-IT as your charity of choice.  Simply follow our unique chairty link to get started.  Amazon will make a donation to CMD-IT every time you shop..

Please stay safe and healthy everyone.

Best Regards,
CMD-IT Leadership   
Nicki Washington Tapia Scholarship Co-Chair
Nicki Washington is Associate Professor in Computer Science, Winthrop University and the Tapia 2020 Scholarship Co-Chair. We interviewed Nicki about her career and how she became involved in the Tapia Conference.

Tell me about your background

I was born and raised in Durham NC. My mom was a programmer turned manager for IBM for her entire career. My father was a K-12 teacher who became an administrator. I was born into a unique situation. My mother was a Black woman and a computer programmer, and she was one of many Black men and women in Durham who were attorneys, teachers, researchers and doctors, many of whom had graduated from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in North Carolina. I didn't realize growing up how unique this was experience was.

College was when I first realized how unique my childhood was. I attended Johnson C. Smith and, while it is an HBCU, there were no Black professors in the computer science department. There were numerous Black faculty across campus in other areas. However, we just didn't have the representation in computer science. That's when I truly realized how important it is for students to have role models and how few Black computer science faculty there were. From there, I attended North Carolina State University for my Master's Degree and Ph.D.

Samuel Rebelsky
Tapia Scholarship Co- Chair
Samuel Rebelsky is a Professor of Computer Science at Grinnell College and the Tapia 2020 Scholarship Co-Chair. We spoke to Samuel about his career, the Tapia Conference and teaching online during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Tell me about your background.

I grew up in the Boston Area, the only child of first-generation Americans. My mother was a Professor of Psychology at Boston University and my father was an executive. My mother taught me all about the challenges that face women in the workplace, when she went to graduate school in the 60's she was asked "what guarantee will you give us that you won't waste your degree by having a child?" My father taught me that even without a degree you can move up in an organization if you are smart and work hard.

How did you become involved in Computer Science?
When I first went to college, I planned to get a PhD in mathematics. In my first year I realized I would never be a great mathematician. I took a computer science class and discovered what I really enjoyed was solving interesting problems and puzzles and being able to build things. Much more fun than writing proofs. I was at the University of Chicago and they had a new PhD program in CS where I was able to teach and I discovered I loved teaching. I was able to go straight from undergrad to grad school. My area of focus became Lazy Functional Programming. After I graduated, I went to Dartmouth University as a visiting professor. From there I went to Grinnell College which I felt was the perfect place for me, it was small enough for me to get to know all of the students. The students also had a strong sense of social justice and were very diverse - you could have someone be a Computer Science/Chinese double major. I still know it was the right place for me when during this COVID-19 crisis the first question the students asked was if all the workers were going to be paid and the College refunded all students' remaining room and board, with some receiving their refunds before leaving campus.

Christan Grant
Tapia Scholarship Committee Deputy Chair
Christan Grant is an Assistant Professor, University of Oklahoma and the Tapia 2020 Deputy Scholarship Chair. We spoke with Christan about his life in computer science and how he discovered the Tapia Conference.

Tell me about your background.

I was born in Miami, Florida and grew up in Broward County South Florida. My parents are from Jamaica, my Dad was a software engineer and my Mom worked for an insurance company. I watched them both worked really hard, raised three kids. They just made it to retirement this year, I'm really happy that they have the opportunity to relax and explore some new ventures.

Tell me how you became involved in Computer Science.

I always figured a software job was something I could do. On days I was sick, would go to work with my Dad and hang out under his desk and play on the extra computer in his office. Computers were always a part of my life. But, I got really excited about computer science from all the cartoon propaganda of the 80's and 90's. The Ninja Turtles, Transformers and Power Rangers all would have a leader, a comic relief, a fighter and someone who was the tech person. I wanted to be all of those things a so I worked on being a ninja anm inventor and a scientist. Growing up I was very active in Tae Kwon do and got my junior black belt, so I have my ninja card. I did an internship at IBM Almaden, I got was part of a patent, so I got my invention. And with my PhD, I am working as a scientist.

In This Issue
Using COVID-19 As A Learning Experience for Students
What do you do when all your students have gone home and are looking for ways to have a meaningful impact while sheltering in place? For Dr. Pablo Rivas, an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York, the answer was to create a tool that would take data of COVID-19 infections and enable students to both enter data and modify its algorithms to provide predictions on the virus and its spread in their country, state or county. You can view the tool at

Show Me Your Walk
May 2
We know our 2020 class will have many ways to celebrate their achievements in creative and virtual ways due to stay at home orders. But we are excited to bring you one more way that the whole community is rallying behind you: "Show Me Your Walk" presented by Chase.
"Show Me Your Walk"is a virtual, fun, high-energy livestream 45 minute celebration that will feature remarks from Jamie Dimon, Chairman & CEO JPMorgan Chase and live talks from Chase partners Kevin Hart, Serena Williams and Stephen Curry.

#Tapia2020 Due Dates
July 1 - Sponsorship Signup Priority Deadline
#Tapia2020 Resume Database Now Open!
The Tapia Conference provides a resume database for individuals who are looking for internships, industry and government jobs, graduate programs, faculty positions and post doc positions.  Our conference sponsors will begin reviewing resumes in June and will contact you to schedule interviews during the conference.  Submit your resume today!
Job Postings
Director of the Data Science Initiative
Atlanta University Center Consortium

School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Cornell University

Winthrop University

SRI International

Reed College

Assistant and Associate Professors
University of North Texas

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