Two University of New Orleans undergraduate students have been named recipients of the 2017-18 UNO Scholarship for Women in Computer Science, an annual scholarship created by alumna and Google engineer Sabrina Farmer.
Banan Ibrahim, a junior from New Orleans, and Thanh Nguyen, a senior from Vietnam, are both honors level students in the Department of Computer Science who have become campus leaders in their field, advocating for and promoting women in the technology field.
“I am truly thankful to have been selected,” Ibrahim said. "It will not only help me financially, but will also serve as motivation for me to grow academically, and remain dedicated to increasing women’s involvement in the STEM field."
Ibrahim is the recipient of the PURSUE Research Award bestowed by UNO’s Office of Research and Sponsored Programs. She was selected to serve as a UNO Ambassador, where she represents the computer science program and UNO as a leader among her peers. In addition to maintaining Dean’s List grades, Ibrahim also participates in the GE Digital Software Engineering Apprenticeship Program, a three-year-old program designed to equip students with the necessary skills and experience required for many entry-level developer positions.
Thanh Nguyen is active in the UNO Robotics Club, where she served as team captain of a team that competed in the 2017 IEEE Robotics competition in Denver, Colo. She is also on the Dean’s List and, with Ibrahim, serves as an officer to the UNO student chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery - Women, a professional organization that represents and promotes women in the field of technology.
Nguyen said she’s grateful for a scholarship that promises to ease any financial burdens that might have distracted her from her coursework and extracurricular involvement. She’s especially excited about the mentorship component that Farmer offers the scholarship recipients. Both Banan and Thanh will benefit from a year of personal mentoring from Farmer herself.
“The mentorship is an amazing opportunity to talk to someone who not only made it through the industry, but excels in it,” Nguyen said.
Off campus, both Ibrahim and Nguyen are members of the New Orleans chapter of the Women in Technology organization.
Farmer, who graduated from UNO in 1995 with a degree in computer science, said her time at the University was “critical” in giving her a strong foundation for what has become a successful career.
Farmer is a director of engineering for the Site Reliability Team at Google, which is responsible for Google Apps, product infrastructure, YouTube and search. Two years after receiving her bachelor’s degree from UNO, Farmer began working in Silicon Valley, where she has been an active advocate for women in technology.
“The scholarship was created to provide early support for women entering the tech world,” Farmer said. “I've accomplished more than I could have even hoped for and my time with the students allows me to share my experiences and strategies for them to have the same or more success. I am very happy to continue to support the UNO Department of Computer Science and the UNO students.”
The award is administered through the UNO Women's Center, which actively seeks to serve and support the women students, faculty and staff of UNO, working with the community to offer scholarships, book awards, and workships to women students based on academics and financial need.
Mahdi Abdelguerfi, professor and chair of the Department of Computer Science, said he is grateful for Farmer's dedication to supporting and mentoring UNO students.
"Thanks to Sabrina's generous contributions, these students have a tremendous opportunity to communicate and learn from one of our industry's top leaders," Abdelguerfi said. "Her inspiring dedication and involvement has dramatically affected female enrollment in computer science at UNO, with our female enrollment outpacing the national average."