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Minnesotan To Meet: Breck High School Senior Darartu Gamada

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – In the next seven years there are expected to be more than a million job openings for computer specialists.

The U.S. Labor Department expects graduates here in the U.S. can only fill roughly 40 percent of those positions. In addition to a shortage of graduates, there's also a huge shortage of women in these jobs.

In this week's Minnesotan to Meet, Ali Lucia introduces us to one student at Breck High School senior who is way ahead of the game.

Darartu Gamada captains Breck's science bowl team and the school's math league and quiz bowl teams.

But that's not all.

She's also a co-captain on the Advanced Science Research Team.

And she accomplished this all before her senior year of high school. Her ambition and hard work make her this week's Minnesotan to Meet.

"It's something that I first had to work at a little bit but there is a lot of resources out there," Gamada said.

The senior didn't start plugging away at computer programming until 9th grade.

You could say the skill came easy for the Breck Senior. Last year she was one of just 35 high school girls to receive a national award for her work in information technology.

"I felt really accomplished in that way. It definitely motivated me further to continue pursuing these interests because I saw a lot of opportunities," she said.

"She's in her own league. She's an impressive young lady. Darartu is amazing… she's articulate. She's passionate about her schooling, she's passionate about technology," Russell Fraenkel, the interim executive director of Advance IT Minnesota, said.

Faenkel's role is to encourage more young women, like Gamada, to pursue technology degrees.

Gamada is a fast learner, perhaps one of her most significant accomplishments is running simulations Itasca Supercomputer at the University of Minnesota.

"Working on the super computer was definitely very fun for me because the combination of biology and computer science is very fascinating," she said.

A summer in Manhattan sounds pretty nice no matter the age. Gamada spent this past summer doing research there at Stony Brook University in Long Island, examining genes involved in kidney diseases.

"I was looking at mining these data sets of patients who have different forms of rejection and trying to see what genes are involved in those forms of rejections that have potential to diagnose patients and find if they do exhibit rejection," said Gamada.

As for her future Gamada is currently applying to colleges all over the country with the hopes of becoming doctor.

"I would like to pursue some type PhD/MD program where I can do research and be a doctor as well," she said.

She is just filling out her college applications now.

If you have a high school daughter or know of a student who knows how to crack the code, the deadline for the 4th annual Minnesota Aspirations for Women in Computing is accepting applications until to November 4. The winners receive iPads, cash prizes and mentorship/job shadowing opportunities.

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