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Karen Ruggles Nominated for National Top Educator of the Year Award

by Janelle Hill M’23 Jan 30, 2024

Karen Ruggles is curious by nature.

Her father was a civil engineer and professor, and, growing up, Ruggles spent a lot of time in his labs.

“I had the opportunity to ask questions,” she says. “And I hardly ever felt like I shouldn’t ask this question because I’m a girl or I don’t belong here. I love learning, and my passion is to help others find their passion and to do so in a safe and curious space.”

That passion serves Ruggles well as associate professor of computer science and varsity esports program director. And it has no doubt led to her latest career achievement.

Ruggles is one of 11 nationwide nominees for Top Educator of the Year at the*gamehers—the first and largest media platform and social networking community of women and femme-identifying gamers. The group works to empower and unite women who game.

“It’s a nice thing to be recognized by my peers with an organization I really admire. If you look through the nominations, these are really wonderful people who are doing big things in collegiate esports, scholastic esports, and professional esports.” 

 Karen Ruggles, associate professor of computer science and varsity esports program director 

The Top Educator of the Year award honors a woman or femme-identifying leader who works in the collegiate space, advancing diversity and inclusion in collegiate esports.

Ruggles, who is in her sixth year as varsity esports program director, created DeSales’ program from the ground up. While esports is quickly evolving on a national level, she says it can still be a toxic and negative space for women.

That’s why she’s heavily involved in DEI initiatives both on and off campus to lay a foundation that’s both inclusive and student focused. She serves on the board of directors for the National Association of Collegiate Esports, the Voice of Intercollegiate Esports, and the Riot Scholastic Association of America.

She’s also the founder and chair of the Academy Software Foundation’s Summer Learning Program, which enables underrepresented individuals to learn more about technical careers. 

“Representation matters so that young girls and women have that person to look up to, not only to say I want to be like them, but also to say it’s doable,” she says. “We need diverse viewpoints and perspectives, and it needs to happen for the health, culture, and strength of any organization.”

To support Ruggles’ initiatives in collegiate esports and as Top Educator of the Year, cast your vote here. Public voting closes on Sunday, February 4.