Althea Denlinger said she always knew she wanted to work with computers - so enamored by how they work, it prompted Denlinger and her brother to build a desktop at home.

After moving to Los Alamos from Pittsburgh, Denlinger worked at Hot Rocks Café and made friends with some of the customers who she learned worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). After earning a New Mexico High School Equivalency Diploma in 2019, Denlinger enrolled in the Associate of Science in Computer Science program at UNM-Los Alamos (UNM-LA).

Althea Denlinger

In February, N3B announced the availability of the Danny Nichols Memorial Scholarship - established to attract students into the energy, environmental and radioactive waste management industry. N3B manages the 10-year, $1.4 billion Los Alamos Legacy Cleanup Contract for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Environmental Management Los Alamos Field Office.

Denlinger was selected to receive the $8,000 award that will go toward her educational career. She also participated in the annual Waste Management Symposia International Conference, as part of the scholarship program, where she gained a better understanding of the cleanup industry and discussed safe and environmentally responsible ways to manage global radioactive waste.

“So many of my STEM classes were taught by women scientists. Dr. Joan Lucas and Dr. Nicole Lloyd-Ronning and many others, were role models for me and made me feel encouraged and supported” she said. 

In addition to the Danny Nichols Memorial Scholarship, Denlinger earned scholarships from the Los Alamos National Laboratory Foundation including the Bronze Scholarship worth $6,000 and the LANL Workforce Retiree Scholarship worth $1,000. 

“Others have inspired me by saying, ‘you can do this’ and ‘I’m here to support you,’ she said. “I hope that other students will have the courage to study STEM fields, apply for scholarships and find the helpers in their lives.”

Denlinger recently accepted a position at LANL where she will be working with the Theoretical Division on Project E3SM (Energy Exascale Earth System Model). The project combines ocean modeling with computer programming and parallel scripting to support research.

She plans to transfer to UNM main campus in the fall and work toward a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science through the UNM College of Engineering.