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Meenakshi Parameshwaran - a 19-year-old from Ilford - has been voted the brightest female computing student in the UK.

Meenakshi beat 13 others after she scored the highest marks in this year's 'A' Level exams.

Not only does she win the 'A' Star trophy, she also gets £500, a laptop computer, game cube and a trip for two to the US.

The competition, organised by Edinburgh-based international software firm Axios Systems, is aimed at encouraging more women to take up careers in IT.

Meenakshi studied at Forest Girls School in Snaresbrook, East London. Following her 'A' Levels she is taking a gap year before taking up a place at Keble College, Oxford University, to read philosophy, politics and economics.

Said Meenakshi: "I've been interested in computing for a long time but was amazed to win this title - it has not sunk in yet.

"It's unfortunate that women are so scarce in the computing world, but through initiatives such as the 'A' Star Awards, the imbalance can be confronted and corrected," she said.

Meenakshi puts her success down to "hard work and good teaching".

The runner-up was Junal Kong, now living in Hong Kong, and studied her 'A' Levels at Oakham School, Rutland. ®

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