“Coding is really messy, and I live for the mess because I have learned that the most beautiful things come from messes,” shared CSM student Monique Reed, who was named one of the nation’s ‘Top 50 Hackers of 2022’ by Major League Hacking (MLH), the official student hackathon league. “Hackathons have really given me a chance to embrace my flops. The events help me learn so much about subjects beyond coding. I now have a deeper knowledge of NFTs, crypto, and sustainability.”

The 18-year-old Mechanicsville resident and computer science student was recognized for her exceptional contributions to the tech ecosystem and STEM education. Each year MLH works with more than 150,000 hackers and those on the organization’s ‘top 50’ list hail from 18 countries.

MLH said that Reed stood out from other applicants for her active presence in the hackathon community. Since her first event, Global Hack Week: INIT 2020, she has participated in XHacks 2021, TechTogether Seattle and Miami, Hoya Hacks 2022, and won category prizes at Girls Hoo Hack and HackViolet 2022. Reed is regularly involved with MLH, being a member of a Global Hack Week guild, and has also studied as part of Karlie Kloss’ Kode With Klossy coding camp. She currently has an internship with Scratchwerk.

Reed, who would only offer her avatar (right) when asked for her photo, recently finished her first semester at CSM and said that she is looking forward to taking advantage of the opportunities at CSM, such as the college’s many transfer agreements to four-year universities as well as CSM’s strong network for post-graduation employment. She said she might even join CSM’s top-ranked robotics team, the Talons, as she continues her education.

“My first semester, which was done entirely virtually, was pretty great,” she said. “All of my professors were really nice, insightful, and quick to respond to any questions I asked. Even though I never met these individuals, they really facilitated a positive learning environment for me.

“I am in awe of how many institutions CSM had partnered with and the benefits available to students who receive a degree from CSM,” she continued.

Reed began coding in the summer of 2020. Her first programming experiences came through a FreeCodeCamp certification she earned and a summer tech program she attended built to support marginalized students, sparking her love for technology. While initially skeptical of hackathons, she soon discovered what it was like to be part of a larger community with similar passions.

For example, at Pearl Hacks 2022, Reed worked with a team to develop a self-care application that included interactive self-care tips, a “letter-in-a-bottle” online diary, and a recipe generator based on user grocery lists. The whole team pushed beyond their comfort zones to learn to React with a Python API embedded. While an error kept their idea from being a success, Reed appreciated the experience of bonding with her team to identify a problem and innovate a solution together.

“I encourage as many people as possible to get out there and participate in a hackathon,” says Reed.

“It is a high honor to be chosen as an MLH Top 50 recipient as each is selected from a pool of more than 150,000 active community members, comprising one in three new programmers in the United States (and even more abroad),” said Nick Quinlan, MLH Chief Operating Officer. “To be selected is to have your achievements recognized as the top percent of the top percent of new technologists today.”

The MLH Top 50 hackers were nominated by community members and selected by MLH to spotlight the unique stories and meaningful contributions of hackers within their community. Hackers are recognized for a cool project they made, an event they organized, a club they created, or the impact they had on other hackers.

CSM’s computer science program is designed for students seeking a bachelor’s degree in computer science. Graduates of the program may go on to specialize in many areas, including cybersecurity, robotics, and machine learning. Learn more at https://www.csmd.edu/programs-courses/credit/school-of-professional-technical-studies/computer-science.htm.


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