Whitney Ford is a rising senior at Plainfield East High School in Plainfield, Illinois. She was originally attracted to the ACT-SO program because it was an opportunity for her to learn more about and explore her interests in the STEM field. She competed in the 2017 local Dupage County ACT-SO branch competition in the Poetry: Written and Computer Science categories. She received a silver medal in the Poetry: Written category, and she received a gold medal in the Computer Science category for her project titled, Deep Learning Methods as a Means of Identifying Gender Using Scanned Iris Images. Due to her accomplishment in the Computer Science category of the local competition, Whitney has advanced to compete at the national competition in Baltimore, Maryland this upcoming July!
Whitney is a seasoned national ACT-SO winner as she has competed in the 2014 and 2015 national competitions. When she competed in the 2014 national competition in Las Vegas, she competed in the Computer Science and Poetry: Written categories. She did not receive a medal for her poem titled, Ziziphus Mucronata, in the Poetry: Written category; however, she received a silver medal in the Computer Science category for her project titled, Can Facial Recognition Technology Be Improved? In the 2015 national competition in Philadelphia, Whitney competed in the Computer Science and Photography categories. She did not receive a medal for her piece titled, Life Through a Child’s Eye, in the Photography category. However, she placed as a silver medalist in the Computer Science category for the second year in a row with her project titled, Computer Vision Based Algorithm for Gender Determination from Fingerprint Ridge Density.
Three Words to Describe Feelings about National Com petition
Anxious, nervous and excited. Whitney feels these emotions because, although she has competed in the national competition before, she is still excited about being able to further pursue her passion, through this competition. Naturally, she is a bit anxious and nervous because this is another year of competition against very talented students. Lastly, she is excited to have the opportunity to achieve bigger and better things and is hopeful to place as a national gold medalist at the competition.
Then vs. Now
Going into her third year competing at the national competition, Whitney feels that she was able to explore and research her project topic more thoroughly this year than she has in the past. She has higher self-esteem and is more confident about presenting her project to the judges and during the walk-through at this year’s competition. This year, she is a lot more comfortable with herself, her abilities, and the competition as a whole.
Nerves & Excitement
Whitney is most nervous about disappointing herself and her supporters by not performing to the best of her abilities in front of the judges on competition day. She is looking forward to meeting new, talented individuals and watching them showcase their unique talents within their specific competition categories. She also hopes to gain a better sense of what it means to be Black, excellent, and successful. She wants to become more self-assured and truly understand that she should not limit herself and her dreams merely because of the color of her skin.
Thank You ACT-SO
Over the past three years, through her experience with ACT-SO, this program has caused Whitney to become more mature, a better public speaker, and more confident. She is so thankful that she has been a part of such an amazing community of people who have helped her discover her interests and true passion.
“Join a category that interests you the most, and do what you are passionate about. Your passion and talent will take you to places that you never imagined that you would go.” -Whitney Ford
We wish you the best of luck, Whitney, in the 2017 national competition!