ITA Students Shine at the 20th Holiday Luncheon

Information Technology Academy (ITA) students showcased their work to friends and family during the 20th annual ITA Holiday Luncheon, held on Saturday, December 7th at UW-Madison’s Gordon Dining and Events Center. The event kicked off with a welcome from a Ho-Chunk drum group who also provided a song of thanks for the meal.

The ITA Holiday Luncheon gathering provides an opportunity to exhibit student work from all three programs – ITA Lac du Flambeau, ITA Madison and ITA Oneida – in presentations that demonstrate the skills they’ve learned thus far. ITA students provided updates of their projects, including infographics, photography, films, coding and game design. Students discussed their experiences with Adobe software, Scratch – an online coding platform that creates animations and games, as well as online portfolio-building websites.

“Student presentations at the Holiday Luncheon were again a highlight for me,” said ITA Technology Services Manager A.J. Daughtry Krill. “I am always amazed at how they take professional technology concepts we teach and run with them. Projects were well-developed and the students’ personal reflections were honest and heartwarming. They expressed gratitude for the ITA experience. One student thanked us for challenging her to dive into programming over the course of the year. We are very proud.”

A special highlight for over 400 attendees was a student film from ITA Oneida student Jadin Baillie whose “More Than Just A Game” submission won the Jury Prize and top student prize at the 2019 Oneida Smartphone Film Festival.

Throughout the event, guests were treated to ITA student talents and also appreciated the efforts of full-time staff and student staff. Several ; ITA  full time and numerous student staff members are also ITA alumni and recall their own holiday luncheons!

Linda Jorn, associate vice provost for learning technologies and DoIT director of Academic Technology, shared insight from her leadership journey. In October, Linda was honored with the 2019 EDUCAUSE Leadership Award for visionary contributions to academic technology, collaborative skills, scholarship, and commitment to mentoring. For the Holiday Luncheon, Linda emphasized the importance of leading from whatever position you find yourself.

The ITA community also heard from keynote speaker and founding ITA Advisory Board member Hazell Symonette who shared leadership insights from her 50 year career at UW-Madison. She reminded students of the opportunity that they have been given as ITA students and challenged them to consider their place in our campus community and the broader society going forward. “To whom much is given, much is expected,” said Symonette.

The luncheon overall served as a ceremony to look back at all the students and staff achieved in the last year.

ITA Advisory Board member Natalia Aguirre-Villalobos said, “After attending four ITA Holiday Luncheons as a student, four as an instructor, and two as an Advisory Board member, I can without a doubt say that this event only gets better every year. I’m always in awe of the creativity and drive every ITA scholar delivers, and it makes me proud to witness them and their families be so rightfully and openly celebrated on this day. I will always be so very thankful for the ITA students, families, full-time staff, student staff, mentors, tutors, alumni, and advisory board members for continuing to nurture our community of leaders.”