Mya Schroder

Making Alaska a high-tech hub.

Robots can build cars, help with surgery, and send people into outer space. Today, at the VEX U Competition, Mya Schroeder and her robotics club are using them to launch something else – discs into a net, with pinpoint accuracy. Months of research, calculations, blood, sweat and tears, have all led to this. But with how easily the robot hits its target, you could never tell. At this moment, Mya couldn’t imagine herself anywhere else. But growing up, she had her sights set on stethoscopes, not sensors.


“My parents always advocated for me and made sure I had every opportunity to succeed in school. Thinking back on it now, I realize how cool that was.” - Mya Schroder



Even at a young age, she loved the thought of helping people. She dreamed of curing their ills, wrapping their injuries and being a doctor one day. Throughout it all, her parents encouraged her to follow her passion. One thing her mother always insisted on though, was that she get a great education. 

Like anyone with a scientific mind, Mya had a breakthrough: you don’t have to be a doctor to help people. Math was more to her liking, and she started switching gears and moving more toward the direction of engineering. It was something that made her father, an engineer, happy. Together, with her younger brother who loved building things, Mya could now join them both in a project they all could be excited about.

Weekends around the kitchen table at the Schroder home weren’t spent preparing meals. The family was preparing for a hackathon competition with their robot entry. Legos were strewn all over. Motors and gears were getting tinkered with. Some of the M&Ms the robot needed to dispense were making it into the holder. The rest were making it into the kids’ mouths. The family worked together, had fun and their teamwork paid off with the best surprise: their robot won. 

Heading into her senior year at Alaska Middle College School (AMCS), Mya knew what she wanted to do. While her dad enjoyed all the countless hours of designing and planning, she enjoyed the more immediate gratification of robots. She also had a good sense of where she wanted to go for her advanced education. As AMCS partners with the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA), she was able to take university-level courses early on. Later, she learned of something that would perfectly segue into being able to take more courses at UAA: the UA Scholars Award. Awarded to the top ten percent of students in every Alaska high school, it could help her reduce some of the costs of attending the university.



Mya earned the award and felt like a tremendous weight had been lifted off her shoulders. Little did she know, the real challenge was still to come with the advanced classes she chose, and the people who would later mentor and push her academically. These things would make her a smarter student though, and better prepare her for the world of robotics. She’d also realized she was getting opportunities at UAA early on that she might not have had elsewhere.

“I always wondered what it’d be like at a prestigious Ivy League school down in the states. But I was able to do plasma physics research as an undergrad, which usually goes to grad students at larger schools, and I became president of the robotics club earlier than I’d expected.” - Mya Schroder.



Her internship is where Mya gained the most ground. She had to design solutions for companies based on Amazon Web Services, build the architecture for it, and then present it to her mentor. It helped her learn how to respond to his questions in a well-thought-out way, and she always knew he had her back. The process made her feel like she could create all of this amazing software that could potentially really impact people.

Mya is in her final year of college and loves this state she calls home. While she may continue on to pursue her masters-level education in the Lower 48, she’d love to apply any knowledge from graduate school toward building a tech hub in Alaska. Alaskans everywhere can’t wait to see what happens next.

Mya realizes Alaska isn’t the tech center of the world and she’s setting out to change all that.


Write your chapter of an Alaska success story. Use your UA Scholars Award to explore majors at the University of Alaska. Here, real-world experience combines with educational know-how to start you on your career and benefit everyone who lives here. Learn more about Computer Science and Computer Systems Engineering, or a variety of other majors, at UAA’s Academics Programs Page. Want to offset your costs even more? Learn about the UA Foundation, Alaska Performance Scholarship and the Alaska 529 Plan.