Hollis Lovelace Award

Hollis Nominated for Ada Lovelace STEM Educator Award 

April 16, 2020
Contact: Brock Turnipseed

Shelly Hollis, the Mississippi State University Center for Cyber Education (CCE) assistant director, was nominated for an Ada Lovelace STEM Educator Award for her contributions in the field of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The Ada Lovelace Awards highlight women and their contributions to technology-based education in the South and also recognizes digital marketers, software engineers, product managers, product designers and tech founders. This year, approximately 20 women, including Hollis, were nominated for their impact as STEM educators. 

"Being nominated for this award was a surprise and great honor. To even be thought of in the same space as other nominees and previous winners is amazing and humbling," Hollis said. "Organizations like the Ada Lovelace Awards help to put role models in front of girls so they can see people who look like them making a difference in the community, state, region, country and the world. I am deeply honored to have been nominated."

Hollis joined the MSU Research and Curriculum Unit in 2014 and was tapped to lead the CCE four years later. In this role, she oversees the development and implementation of CS4MS, Mississippi's statewide K-12 computer science pilot program.

She also facilitates ongoing computer science curricula development and updates, travels across the state to help train K-12 computer science teachers and continually works to secure funding for these and other related efforts.

Through the combined efforts of the RCU and CS4MS, more than 1,000 Mississippi teachers have received K-12 computer science training.

CS4MS began with 38 school districts in 2016-2017 and now features 114 districts offering computer science courses.

Under Hollis' guidance, the CCE also partnered with C Spire to start the C Spire Software Development Pathway, a two-year program that gives students the opportunity to train as a junior software developer.

The CCE helped Mississippi rank as one of the nation's fastest-growing states in computer science. In 2018-2019, 47% of the state's high schools began offering at least one computer science course - a 19% increase from the previous year.

Those improvements also include significant increases in the numbers of underrepresented minority and female students taking computer science courses, something Hollis advocates for in her role with the CCE.

"I am very passionate about helping Mississippi provide the opportunity for computer science education to all K-12 students," she said. "In particular, I want to make sure we are reaching those historically underrepresented groups in computer science, such as women and African Americans.

In 2018-2019, Mississippi made one of the country's largest increases in the number of underrepresented minority and female students taking advanced placement computer science exams. Forty underrepresented minority students took an AP computer science exam, up from 23 in 2017, while the number of female students who took one more than doubled to 65.

"Computer science will play a major role in solving most of the largest problems we face in society today, and if we don't have a diverse group of people in this space working on those problems, the most creative and innovative solutions will take longer to realize or will be missed altogether," Hollis said.