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Computer Science Student Wins Quip Diversity Technology Scholarship

Blake Lewis of Ocean Springs, a senior computer and information science major, has received a Quip Diversity in Technology Scholarship. Submitted photo by Ryan Upshaw.

A University of Mississippi engineering student has been awarded the Quip Diversity Tech Scholarship.
Blake Lewis, a senior computer science major with minors in mathematics and sociology, visited software company Quip’s office in San Francisco in August. The scholarship supports students who are underrepresented in STEM fields, particularly computer science, and includes but is not limited to women, African-Americans, Latinos, American Indians, LGBTQ+, first generation, and/or people with disabilities.
The Ocean Springs native heard about the scholarship opportunity via an intradepartmental email.
“Carrie Long, the administrative secretary for our department, sent the email from the Career Center about this program to all the computer science students, and she encouraged any of us eligible to apply,” Lewis said. “So I decided it couldn’t hurt.”
Lewis said visiting Quip was a wonderful experience. The team members not only talked about different topics in computer science with the scholarship recipients, such as design, product engineering and site reliability, but also provided professional advice about career growth and job searching. Lewis had the chance to meet with the CEOs of Quip, Kevin Gibbs and Bret Taylor.
“We learned about some things that Bret and Kevin created while working for other companies like Google Map, Google Suggest and Facebook,” Lewis said. “My favorite part of the day, though, was the panel discussion about diversity in tech.”
He said the biggest takeaway of this panel was that companies must ensure those who are creating the products accurately represent the market they wish to reach in order to create innovative products that are accessible to everyone.
“One of the panelists, Erica Baker, talked a lot about Project Include, which is a company that encourages tech startups to think about diversity and inclusion from the start,” Lewis said. “I think it is important for CS and other engineering students who wish to have a tech startup in the future to know about Project Include and the important work they are doing.”
Lewis has developed a passion for diversity and inclusion since he started at the university. Especially being a community assistant for the Department of Student Housing since his sophomore year of college, he has a more profound understanding about diversity.
“As a CA, I have made it my goal to make freshman residents feel welcome, no matter who they are, and help them get connected to the community,” he said. “On the flip side, I’ve also had to have some tough conversations with residents about diversity and inclusion and how things they say and do can affect people and their access to education.”
Lewis has been serving his second year as vice president of community assistant development for the UM Community Assistant Association and president of the National Residence Hall Honorary. He is also an active member of the UM Pride Network.
Outside the classroom, he has served as an ACUHO-I (Association of College and University Housing Officers International) intern at Montana State University Billings, and been an intern at the same institution’s Diversity Center.
He plans to do his senior project for the housing department this year. Deeply influenced by his experience as a CA, Lewis also would like to pursue a master’s degree in higher education/student affairs and hopes to get a graduate assistantship as a hall director for a residence hall while he is getting his master’s.
“Quip’s staff was very diverse, and it was amazing to meet successful queer computer scientists,” he said. “I would definitely encourage other people at Ole Miss to apply.”


Courtesy of Xinyi Song
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