George Mason University junior and Honors College student Brenda Henriquez has been named an Adobe Research Women-in-Technology Scholar, a program that recognizes outstanding undergraduate female students studying computer science.
Henriquez is one of 15 women selected from colleges and universities throughout the United States to receive the prestigious honor. As part of the award, Henriquez received $10,000 towards her education.
“Receiving the award was an honor for me,” the computer science major said.
Henriquez has received numerous awards during her time at Mason, including the George Mason University Alumni Association Service Scholarship and the Intel Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers Scholarship.
“Brenda is an incredible young person,” said Vanessa Correa, associate director for advising at the Honors College. “She exemplifies the very best of Mason, brilliant in her academics, never being afraid to ask questions, tenacious in how she works toward her goals.”
Correa said that Henriquez, as a first-generation Latina, “understands the many barriers she has faced and continues to face on a day-to-day basis.”
“I am in awe of her resiliency and compassion,” Correa said.
Raised in Falls Church, Virginia, Henriquez participated in Mason’s Student Transition Empowerment Program (STEP) designed to recruit, engage, retain and empower first-generation college students. She also served as a program coordinator.
“I found my first community at Mason through STEP,” Henriquez said. “I wanted to give back to a program that provides first-generation students with so much.”
Henriquez is also a member of Mason’s Student Access and Equity team and the treasurer for the student-run Minorities in Computing group.
“Brenda is so passionate about computer science, exploring new things and sharing her experience and knowledge,” said Jan M. Allbeck, associate dean of the Honors College. “It’s always exciting when someone wants to give back and help others so much. Brenda already sees the impact of reaching out and helping others.”
When Henriquez began at Mason, she wasn’t initially thinking about becoming a computer science major. She credits her CS 112 Introduction to Computer Programming class for igniting her interest.
“What I love about computer science is that it is based on logic and problem-solving,” said Henriquez. “After I took that class, I switched my major and never looked back.”
At this point in her life, Henriquez wants to work as a software engineer and perhaps earn a doctorate. She hopes her story inspires other young women to pursue careers in computer science.
“I would love to see future generations of women join us in computer science,” Henriquez said. “Computer science unites people to create, solve and discuss problems. I look forward to the ideas and growth from future women computer scientists.”