Suffolk woman honored for IT education

Published 9:23 pm Saturday, March 20, 2010

A Suffolk woman with long ties to the Girl Scouts of America and a role in the city’s government has been honored by the Information Technology Senior Management Forum for her work on behalf of African-American college students.

Dr. Sandra DeLoatch, dean of the College of Science, Engineering and Technology at Norfolk State University, was presented with the Ivory Dome Award by the ITSMF during its recent IT Executive Achievement Awards program in San Jose, Calif.

DeLoatch said she is not a member of the organization and was “surprised by the announcement” that she had won after having been nominated by someone from Cox Communications who had never met her but had heard about her achievements at NSU and wanted to see that DeLoatch was recognized for them.

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The award “recognizes those individuals who are dedicated to the education and advancement of IT students” and therefore contribute to the organization’s mission of “filling the pipeline with the next generation of African-American IT leaders,” according to a program from the awards ceremony.

During her time at NSU, DeLoatch — who is a graduate of John F. Kennedy High School in Suffolk and serves on the city’s Board of Zoning Appeals — has worked hard to ensure that black students are encouraged to enter the field of information technology.

“I’ve been involved in motivating students to go on into careers in IT,” she said recently after returning from San Jose. “There are not many African-American students who go on to get their PH.D.s in this field.”

In fact, opportunities for students with an aptitude for science have improved markedly during her time at NSU, which didn’t even have a computer science department when she started teaching there in 1972.

She was responsible for initiating that department in 1983 and led the program to accreditation in 1991, according to her biography in the ITSMF program. She became dean of the school’s College of Science, Engineering and Technology in 2000.

“I enjoy working with the students,” she said. “I’m delighted when they go off and are successful.”

According to her biography, that connection with her students has won her a number of other awards in the past, including being named the NSU Roy A. Woods Teacher of the Year in 1983, the National Technical Association’s Technical Achiever of the Year in 2000 and NSU Administrator of the Year in 2001.

Having worked with the Urban League to establish and host its first video game programming workshops for public school students, she helped the university earn the Urban League Martin Luther King Jr. Community Service Award in 2005.

Her work with the Girl Scout Council of Colonial Coast won her the Woman of Distinction Award in 2003. She is a life member of the Girl Scouts and currently serves as chairman of the board for that council. Her work with that organization has included the launch of Saturday STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) workshops for Girl Scouts at NSU.

DeLoatch is a lifelong resident of Suffolk, where she is raising her great-nephew.