FORT WALTON BEACH, Fla. (WKRG) — Congratulations are in order for Amirah Ricks, a Senior at Choctawhatchee High School in Fort Walton Beach.

Ricks won a $40,000 Amazon Future Engineer scholarship. Amazon also gave Ricks a paid summer internship after her freshman year of college at Cornell University. Ricks plans to major in Computer Science.

“This will open up so many doors for me and I am really excited,” said Ricks in a thank you to Amazon.

Ricks was surprised by her computer science teacher gifting her an amazon package. Applause erupted as she showed the rest of her class the certificate inside of her scholarship award.

Superintendent Marcus Chambers took to social media to broadcast the news about Rick’s accomplishment.

“Amirah maintains a 4.8392 GPA, was a finalist for the Peggy Gorday Bruner Award (OCSD’s highest award for academic achievement and excellence), and serves as the President of the Environmental Defense Club.

Amirah, I am honored that you are a member of the Okaloosa County School District family and am proud of you and your accomplishments. Good luck in your next endeavor. I know you will change the world!”

Marcus Chambers, Okaloosa County School District Superintendent

Amirah is one of 250 students nationwide to win the scholarship.

This year’s winners were chosen among thousands of applicants and include:

– More than 70% of scholarship recipients identify as Black, Latinx, and Native American (BLNA)

– 50% identify as women 

Amazon

Read the full release and more about the Amazon Future Engineer program below:

FORT WALTON BEACH, Florida – April 13, 2022– Amirah Ricks, a senior at Choctawhatchee High School has been named an Amazon Future Engineer Scholarship recipient and will receive $40,000 over four years to pursue a degree in computer science at a college of her choice. She is one of 250 students across the country to receive the award along with a paid internship offer at Amazon after her freshman year of college to gain hands-on, practical work experience with mentorship from Amazon leaders. The Amazon Future Engineer program has awarded $22 million in scholarships to 550 students from underserved and historically underrepresented communities across the U.S. since 2019. 

Recipients were chosen based on a variety of criteria, including their academic achievement, demonstrated leadership, participation in school and community activities, work experience, future goals, and financial need. Amazon partnered with Scholarship America to review the applications and select the 250 scholars.

Amirah Ricks is the valedictorian of her class and the president of her school’s Environmental Defense Club. In the fall, she will begin her freshman year at Cornell University, majoring in computer science. After graduating from Cornell, she aspires to combine her passion for computer science with her love of the environment in a career that will allow her to make real change in the world. 

“Amirah is a polite and conscientious young adult,” says Choctawhatchee High School Principal, Michelle Heck. “Her work ethic is admirable, and she is always striving to grow as a person. Her passion for making the world a better place is evident in her actions every day as president of the Environmental Defense Club. I am grateful to have had the chance to be her computer science teacher and play a small role in her having this fantastic opportunity from Amazon Future Engineers.

Marcus Daniel Chambers, Superintendent of Schools in Okaloosa County says, “To earn a scholarship at the caliber of the Amazon Future Engineer Scholarship takes hard work and dedication not only from the student but also from the teachers who inspire them and their support system outside of the classroom- her family and friends. Amirah is deserving of this honor, and I am proud of her! Congratulations!”

Computer science is the fastest-growing profession within the STEM field. The Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts that job opportunities for computer science workers will grow 13% between 2020 and 2030, yet only 8% of STEM graduates earn a computer science degree, and only a small percentage of those come from underserved and historically underrepresented communities. Additionally, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the median annual wage for computer and information technology occupations was $91,250 in May 2020, which is more than twice the median annual wage for all occupations.

Amazon Future Engineer, Amazon’s global philanthropic computer science education program, aims to bridge the divide between interested students and computer science courses and opportunities. The childhood-to-career education program helps students explore computer science through school curriculum and project-based learning, using code to make music, program robots, and solve problems, and offers teachers professional development opportunities. Amazon launched the Amazon Future Engineer Scholarship program in 2019, awarding 100 students annually with $40,000 scholarships over four years, to pursue an undergraduate degree in computer science and paid internships at Amazon

About Amazon Future Engineer
Amazon Future Engineer is a childhood-to-career computer science education program intended to inspire and educate millions of students from historically underrepresented communities globally, including hundreds of thousands of students in the U.S. each year. Students explore computer science through school curriculum and project-based learning, using code to make music, program robots, and solve problems. Additionally, each year Amazon Future Engineer awards 250 students with four-year, $40,000 scholarships and paid internships at Amazon, as well as names ten Teacher of the Year winners, awarding $30,000 prize packages for going above and beyond to inspire students in computer science and to promote diversity and inclusion in the field. The program is currently available in the U.S., U.K., France, Canada, India and Germany. For more information, visit amazonfutureengineer.com.