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Alumni Magazine

‘A force for good in the world’: Veronica Cateté honored with 2020 Erskine B. Bowles Staff Service Award

Veronica Cateté standing outside holding her award next to an sculpture of a wolf.

Veronica Cateté, a research scientist in the Department of Computer Science (CSC) at NC State, received the most prestigious honor awarded by the UNC Staff Assembly — the 2020 Erskine B. Bowles Staff Service Award.

The Erskine B. Bowles Staff Service Award recognizes the achievements of employees through their professional interactions, extraordinary service to their respective campus and outstanding service to the greater community.

The award is just one of several Cateté has received for her outstanding work; she has also been previously recognized with an Award for Excellence, Pride of the Wolfpack Award and a 2017 Equity for Women Award.

Cateté was nominated by Tiffany Barnes, a CSC Distinguished Professor at NC State and Cateté’s faculty supervisor, who said that Cateté is “a force for good in the world.”

“As a research scientist in my lab, she has gone above and beyond to make sure that the work that she does makes an impact,” said Barnes. “From a local to global level, she has gotten involved to promote STEM education. Here at NC State, she is a mentor and makes significant efforts in improving the department and overall community climate.”

Cateté received her B.S. and Ph.D. from NC State. She has worked in the CSC department since 2018 and has been focused on educational programming and course development with culturally responsible pedagogy in mind, helping students from all backgrounds to see themselves in the curricula that they are participating in. Cateté works under Barnes in the Game2Learn Lab, a facility associated with the Center for Educational Informatics and the Digital Games Research Center.

I want to make an easier path that enables students to better figure out what they want to do while also opening the field to innovators and catalysts.” — Veronica Cateté

As the second Latina Ph.D. graduate from the CSC department, addressing accessibility and equity problems has remained at the core of Cateté’s research and service at NC State. This includes creating an environment where young women and minority students feel a sense of belonging and can make informed professional decisions.

“There are places where decisions are happening where there isn’t always representation, so I try to put my nose in these places,” Cateté said.

She has mentored five graduate researchers, 10 undergraduates, approximately 50 high school students and a vast number of protégés. Additionally, Cateté serves as a co-advisor for the NC State student chapter of the STARS Computing Corps, a service organization that aims to engage K-12 students in computer science.

“I want to make an easier path that enables students to better figure out what they want to do while also opening the field to innovators and catalysts,” said Cateté. “We aim to be a welcoming environment with many representatives being from different spaces and showing aspiring students what the faces of computer science look like and that they can be here, too.”