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Natalie Hilliker

1085

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Finalist

Bio

I am a conscientious and driven honors student who strives for excellence. As someone who is artistic and creative but also strong in math and science, I have found a true passion in the field of software development and UX design. I am currently a freshman majoring in Computer Science at Michigan Technological University, one of the snowiest campuses in the United States! When I'm not studying, I enjoy getting involved in campus organizations like Keweenaw Pride and WICS (Women in Computer Science). I also enjoy playing video and tabletop games, cheering on my university's hockey team, and creating digital art.

Education

Michigan Technological University

Bachelor's degree program
2022 - 2026
  • Majors:
    • Computer Science

Rockford High School

High School
2018 - 2022
  • GPA:
    3.9

Miscellaneous

  • Desired degree level:

    Bachelor's degree program

  • Graduate schools of interest:

  • Transfer schools of interest:

  • Majors of interest:

    • Computer Science
  • Not planning to go to medical school
  • Test scores:

    • 1240
      SAT
    • 25
      ACT

    Career

    • Dream career field:

      Computer Software

    • Dream career goals:

      Creative Director

    • Server

      On the Border Mexican Grill & Cantina
      2022 – Present2 years
    • Orientation Team Leader

      Michigan Technological University
      2023 – Present1 year

    Arts

    • Digital Art Club

      Computer Art
      2019 – Present

    Public services

    • Volunteering

      Art Outreach — Member
      2019 – Present
    • Advocacy

      Gender Sexuality Alliance — Secretary
      2019 – Present

    Future Interests

    Advocacy

    Volunteering

    Entrepreneurship

    Dynamic Edge Women in STEM Scholarship
    Sometimes help comes from the most unimaginable source you’d never even have fathomed to come to the rescue during your time of need. In my case, help came in the form of a handheld video game system. You see, I am a lesbian artist who loves to code, but I had the misfortune of attending a conservative high school with a highly competitive sports program. Athletes ruled our school, so anyone not on a team was basically a social outcast. Throw in the fact that I’m not straight, and high school became a gauntlet of dodging insults and snide comments from my peers. I needed something to distract me from the daily discrimination I faced at school and connect me instead to like-minded friends. The Nintendo Switch was a life-changing console that offered me the escape I had been craving. For context, the Switch transformed the gaming industry by offering a unique and entertaining gaming experience. Its portability and capability to seamlessly switch from TV to handheld mode redefined how we play games. Due to its local multiplayer capabilities, it brought back the fun of playing games with others in person as well as online. The mobility of the Switch is why I believe it captured the hearts of many gamers worldwide. Nintendo created a device that was able to connect gamers in ways people didn’t know was possible, and I will forever be thankful for the way it inspired me to code as well as the friendships I’ve grown and developed through a shared passion for this device. As someone who appreciates game development and is interested in UX design, the Nintendo Switch is a powerful example of how technology and creativity can work together to create an ingenious user experience. The console's easy-to-use controls and intuitive interface have made it accessible to a broad audience of gamers, regardless of their skill level, age, or disabilities. In addition, the software allowed for more breathtaking games that appealed to the interests of more diverse markets. For example, Nintendo could now publish mature games for their older audience like The Elder Scrolls Skyrim while creating content younger customers could enjoy as well. Seeing the UX capabilities of the Nintendo Switch, I aspire to make this kind of impact in my studies and future career. As a computer science major at Michigan Technological University, I will have the power to use my coding abilities to make a positive difference. After my studies, I dream of creating software and applications that are inclusive to everyone. I aim to use my knowledge to build platforms promoting diversity and inclusion, such as safe spaces for LGBTQ+ individuals. Also, I hope to do the research necessary to aid those who might be barred from the software because of certain disabilities. For example, I would create my software to have the ability to read the text on the page for visually impaired patrons. In conclusion, the Nintendo Switch is an excellent example of how technology and design can work together to create an exceptional user experience. As a software engineer who has faced discrimination in my field for being both a lesbian and a woman, I commit to using my coding skills to create accessible and inclusive software and make a positive difference in the world. I aspire to be a leader in my field and work towards making technology more inclusive and usable for all.