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NMSU freshman creates $10,000 scholarship to fund undergraduate tuition

While most college students and their parents are consumed with finding ways to pay the costs of getting their degree, one New Mexico State University freshman is donating her $10,000 Google scholarship to create a new scholarship for another NMSU student.

New Mexico State University freshman Natasha Nesiba is donating her $10,000 Google scholarship to create a new scholarship for another NMSU student. (NMSU photo by Darren Phillips)

After graduating from Las Cruces High School in May 2010, Natasha Nesiba was one of seven to receive the competitive $10,000 Google Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship for First Years to fund her tuition. She also was one of 29 high school graduates selected from around the country to attend the 2010 Google Computer Science Summer Institute, a three-week summer program at the Google headquarters in Mountain View, CA.

"We really got to experience life as a 'Googler,'" Nesiba said.

The students attended panels and presentations, worked on Web applications using Python programming and met with Google employees from various departments. Other Google employees acted as mentors, and helped each student integrate into the Google campus.

However, 18-year-old Nesiba already had received the President's Associates Excellence Scholarship, NMSU's most prestigious award, which covers tuition and fees plus $1,625 each semester. With her tuition already paid, she asked Google if she could donate the money.

"I believe the opportunity to attend college is a privilege," Nesiba said. "To be able give someone that opportunity is so gratifying. There are so many students who can benefit from this scholarship and it's great that I can help."

Nesiba created a new $10,000 scholarship to honor her father. The Mark Nesiba Memorial Scholarship for Women in Computing will fund tuition for an NMSU undergraduate majoring in computer science.

"Tasha is not only an extremely talented and bright student, she is also a wonderful human being, very generous and interested in helping others," said Enrico Pontelli, computer science department head.

Nesiba was recruited as a research assistant for the Young Women in Computing Program, an outreach program of the Computer Science Department, in 2009, while she was still in high school. Pontelli, the program's director, has assisted her throughout the scholarship design process.

"She decided on her own to contact Google and explore the opportunity to use Google funds to help other students in computer science," Pontelli said. "She just wanted to give back to the program and help others succeed in this discipline."

Nesiba has been active in every aspect of creating the scholarship, from planning the creation of the award to setting requirements for the selection of a recipient. She also will serve as a member of the selection committee.

The Mark Nesiba Memorial Scholarship will likely be awarded as early as the fall 2011 semester.