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Students@SC Chair Sally Ellingson Shines Her Guiding Light

The Students@SC program is a perfect example of what SC is all about – bringing people together to talk tech. Open to everyone from high school to graduate students, the program provides vital career-growing tools, such as a job fair, alumni networking event, various workshops and skill-building activities, and so much more.

A Chair with Chops

With the large breadth of Students@SC, someone with history of SC must take the reins of the program. This year, that person is Sally Ellingson of the University of Kentucky’s Institute of Biomedical Informatics. 

She began attending SC while in graduate school in 2010, where she was able to gain access to the conference through a program called Broader Engagement, which originally began in 2007 to better engage people consistently underrepresented in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). 

Sally ellingson

SC23 Students@SC Chair

“The year I graduated I volunteered to be on the committee and have been involved in some aspect every year since,” said Ellingson. “Most often, it’s with Students@SC.”

Ellingson has a wealth of knowledge about SC and the value of its student programs. To learn more about what this program has to offer students, we sat down with Ellingson to discuss her experiences with the world’s largest HPC conference.

Community as Family

Anyone who has volunteered for SC knows that doing so is no small task. The conference involves a ton of unpaid work, and those volunteering are usually busy people with day jobs. Often, volunteers are asked the same question by potential attendees – Why spend so much time and effort on something you’re not paid to do

The answers vary, but they tend to come back to the same points. SC is a massive opportunity, both in terms of career advancement but also for expanding networks and making friends. As a regular attendee, Ellingson knows this all too well. 

“Student programs at conferences such as SC with a focus on diversity and inclusion made a huge impact in my life and career trajectory,” Ellingson said. “I hope to provide these same opportunities to our future colleagues. SC is family, and we support our family.”

Empowering connections made at SC is one of the best parts of being involved. In fact, Ellingson states that a past student volunteer recently imparted via email that her assistance helped her land an internship this summer at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Of course, it’s important to not think of SC transactionally. In fact, Ellingson states that one of the biggest benefits of Students@SC is the sense of community. As supercomputing is a complex field that often demands its practitioners hours of alone time in front of a screen, and it can be daunting for a young person to parse the opportunities in solitude. Participating in Students@SC can give them the confidence, resources, and network they need to propel them forward in working with the most beautiful machines humans have ever designed.

When asked what she would tell someone who is considering joining the program, Ellingson’s response was brief and filled with hopeful joy for the newest recruits. 

“Do it!” she exclaimed. “Even if you do not have a lot of experience in HPC. I didn’t when I first attended. A desire to learn is all you need.” 

At first glance, SC is several rooms where people gather to nerd out about supercomputers. But take time to dig in, and you’ll find a treasure trove of career opportunities and lifelong friends, many of which are forged at SC!/

Learn More!

Energize your future. Learn more about Students@SC and how you can get involved.

If you have questions about any aspect of Students@SC, please contact the program committee.

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