Catherine Rasgaitis, 18, a Tacoma, Washington, resident, and dual-enrolled computer science student at Stadium High School and Highline College, has been named one of 2022’s MLH Top 50 – a list compiled each year by Major League Hacking (MLH) of the organization’s most inspiring community members. The recipients are recognized for their exceptional contributions to the tech ecosystem & STEM education.
Rasgaitis stood out for being the Founder and President of Stadium High School’s Girls Who Code Club, which she created as a response to experiencing the “computer science gender gap” phenomenon firsthand. She is also a member of Highlight College’s Computer Science Club, where she has helped organize hackathons Thunder Hacks and Spring Hacks.
“I quickly made it my mission to debunk misconceptions about technology being a ‘man’s industry,’” says Rasgaitis. “The hacker community has truly shaped who I am. Participating in hackathons has not only improved my technical skill set, but it has given me the ability to give back, share my passions, and build projects that truly help people.”
Rasgaitis first discovered her love for coding in the fourth grade, when she took part in Clubhouse 253, a computer science summer camp teaching Kodu Game Lab and block-based programming language Scratch. When the program ended, she continued to work on “choose your own adventure” games and custom platformers, which were featured on the official Scratch website.
“Watching people enjoy my projects sparked my passion for building things with code,” Rasgaitis says. “Since discovering my love for Scratch, I felt confident that I wanted to craft my career around building software.”
At 16, Rasgaitis came across her first hackathon, TaroHacks, where she and a partner created School Tools, which included features like a to-do list and a collection of educational resources. The experience inspired her to participate in as many events as she could. At Tech Takes on Mental Health, her group created NeuroBoost, a website and mobile app to improve cognitive skills in Alzheimer’s patients, which she was able to share with her grandmother’s caregiver.
“Being a part of the hackathon community has given me an avenue to improve the quality of life for the people I love and others around me,” says Rasgaitis. “I have also seen how important it is to work in a team and take advantage of everyone’s special talents to make an impactful project.”
“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),” says 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.”