When you ask TCS Junior, Sara Riyad what she would like to do in the future, she will tell you she plans “to use statistical computing to create an AI that would determine the likelihood of someone developing certain diseases by using a mix of computer science and biology.”

Maybe that is not an answer you would expect from a sixteen-year-old, but it is not surprising when you consider Riyad’s journey so far. She comes from a family of engineers who have always steered her toward computing, yet Sara says her classes at TCS gave her the passion.

“I didn’t really like computing at first- it never was of importance to me. When I took AP Computer Science Principals at TCS with Mrs. Gall the class really helped to show me that you can use code to solve real-world problems,” remarks Riyad.

Solutions for real-world problems like using computing and coding to create a clothing drive that supports girls in Egypt who are rejected by society.

This past spring Riyad was selected as a 2020 New Jersey Honorable Mention of the NCWIT Award, (National Center for Women & Information Technology) for Aspirations in Computing. This is a prestigious award that required the nomination of Mrs. Gall who has been teaching computer science at TCS for 23 years. She says she knew from the start that Sara was the right candidate for this award.

“Sara has both an aptitude and a passion for computing, has taken the highest-level courses we offer here at TCS and has demonstrated a growing leadership ability both at TCS and in the larger community. I am proud of her enthusiasm and tenacity as she seeks out new ways to use her talents. This young woman is overflowing with ideas,” says Gall.

Riyad hopes to find a lab to intern with during her senior year. This Class of 2021 member sees a bright future and has hope that she will make her mark on a field that has been predominately male.

“At the awards ceremony I heard some speakers who inspired me as a minority and a woman that I need to be even more determined – that I can make a difference. I found their words to be very powerful,” adds Riyad.

The TCS community congratulates Sara for her achievement. We are looking forward to seeing what she will do in the future.