Computers have completely revolutionized the way the world communicates, connects, and learns. Perhaps no technology has given more people access to educational opportunities to living in remote areas.

In the 1960’s, when the field of computer science was in its early stages, an unlikely person was at the forefront. A Catholic nun was the first woman to earn a doctorate in computer sciences (and only the second person altogether) and helped develop the coding language that made computers accessible to more people.

Sister Mary Kenneth Keller, born in Ohio in 1914, entered the Sisters of Charity in 1932 and professed her vows in 1940. She went on to study at DePaul University, where she received a B.S. in Mathematics and an M.S. in Mathematics and Physics.

During the 1960s, Sister Keller studied at the University of Wisconsin. She also studied at Purdue, the University of Michigan and Dartmouth College. At the time, Dartmouth banned all women from using the computer center, but they relaxed the rule and made an exception for Keller.

This helped her to develop the computer language BASIC. Before it was developed, only mathematicians and scientists had the ability to write custom software. BASIC allowed anyone who could learn the language to do so, making computer use accessible to a much larger percentage of the population.

In 1965, she became the first American woman to earn a Ph.D. in computer science. Keller’s dissertation was titled “Inductive Inference on Computer Generated Patterns.”

Afterward, Sister Keller founded the computer science department at Clarke College in Iowa. She directed the college for 20 years. She was very passionate about providing access and information to everyone, not just computer scientists. Keller was a firm believer in the potential of computers and how they would help to increase access to valuable information as well as help to promote education.

Continuing the legacy of Sister Keller, the Catholic Church continues to help spread opportunities for education with computer technology in poor and remote areas. Using the most cutting-edge technology, the Pontifical Mission Societies have created MISSIO, a new and innovative Catholic crowd-funding platform that allows you to directly help provide aid and educational opportunities for the poorest of areas.

By donating through MISSIO, you can help The Daughters of Mary teach computer skills in the Congo, help The Sisters of St. John the Baptist build a computer lab in Madagascarempower youth in Liberia with computer education.

Launched by Pope Francis himself, the MISSIO platform offers a direct connection to change-makers who work on the “front lines” making a difference for the poor and marginalized through direct, daily service.

Choose one of these missions of Pope Francis, and donate directly to them, knowing that 100% of your donation will go directly there. Share them on social media so others can support the projects also.

MISSIO is powered by The Pontifical Mission Societies, the Catholic Church’s official support organization for overseas missions since 1822, providing for a global network of people who are making a difference for communities in need around the globe.

Check out MISSIO today and start giving!

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  1. So I ask you, fellow M-Phi’ers, to pay specific attention to the proficient young
    women around you who’re always confronted with feelings of inadequacy,
    and who could actually profit from some further encouragement .
    36 after steamrolling over UAB 55-18 in its dwelling opener.

  2. Sister Mary Kenneth Keller impressed me a lot, as she was the first woman to earn a PhD in Computer Science. I am currently choosing a major, but CS is too hard for me. I am afraid I won’t be able to complete all the work on my own, so I was recommended to check the review at and consider hiring an expert with unique approaches to writing for my future tasks. Just imaging how Sister Keller’s work expanded the boundaries of computer science, and how it inspires such young girls as me to work harder.


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