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Trio awarded IT scholarships

Talented students: back from left, BHS head Linda Parker, Minister of Government Reform Lovitta Foggo and Dmitry Mnushkin from Treefrog Consulting; front, BHS students Lara Backeberg, Kameron Young and Ashlyn Lee

Three schoolgirls have landed $5,000 IT scholarships to help them achieve their dream of careers in the industry.

Bermuda High School’s Lara Backeberg, 13, Ashlyn Lee, 15, and Kameron Young, 16, were awarded the scholarships by software specialists Treefrog Consulting after they showed top-notch skills in robotics, computer science and artificial intelligence.

Kameron said: “While the IT industry remains a male-dominated field, women are proving why they are necessary by succeeding and in return, they are achieving great things.

“I believe it is also necessary for young girls to see a woman doing great things in the field of IT because it lets them know that they can do anything they put their mind to.”

She added: “I would love to be a role model that little girls can look to in the field of IT.”

Lara said: “There are not a lot of women in computer science fields and I find that is not only because women don’t find it interesting but it seems to be a male-dominated area.”

Ashlyn added: “We have so much to offer, for example when it comes to a being organised and critical minded. I believe that both males and females can provide that kind of thinking in the field.”

The girls all have different reasons for getting involved in IT — and advice for anyone interested in following in their footsteps.

Kameron was on the BHS team for the First Global Competition last summer and came 59th — ahead of the United States, Britain and Russia.

Her love for computers came from her grandfather Kenyetta Young, who used to teach Kameron everything he knew about computers.

Kameron said: “Once I learnt that I was good at it, I began to enjoy it more and look for more skills that I could learn

“I hope to go into a field that allows me to combine medicine with robotics. I would like to be a surgeon but I also find using neurological pathways to create Artificial Intelligence interesting.

“The science side of technology interests me, things like neuron technology. I am really delighted to receive this scholarship.”

Kameron added: “It does not matter how much experience you have but rather, how much motivation you have to improve your skills.

“The internet is an unlimited resource so you should use it to your advantage.”

Lara was inspired by computer sciences when she saw a speaker at her school who had lost both his legs and decided to forge a career making bionic limbs.

She said: “I love being able to use the computer — I feel like I fully understand how everything works to some extent.

“I love AI and robotics. When we did a research project on nanotechnology, I liked looking into the dark areas of it and why it could be bad.

Lara added: “If someone asks me how to get into computer science there are millions of websites with information.”

Ashlyn’s father worked in IT so she got an introduction at an early age. She wants to study either computer or mechanical engineering and would like to be a computer programmer.

Ashlyn said: “I do see it as a career path and definitely want to continue studying these fields. I am very grateful for the scholarships which will help me further my studies.”

And she offered some guidance to other girls interested in computers.

Ashlyn said: “My advice is to do extracurricular activities which can expand your interests like hour of code, STEAM or STEM camps and MIT coding to start practicing and getting an understanding of the basics.”

Minister for Government Reform Lovitta Foggo told the winners: “You are the future.”

BHS has three robotics clubs, a Coding and Hacking Club, STEAM Club, Maker Club and a digital leaders programme.

Computer science and robotics are also built into the curriculum.

This academic year BHS teamed up with Great4Learning, owned by Darren Burchall, the school’s head of computer science to offer STEAM camps to girls across the island this academic year.

A multimillion dollar innovation centre at the school is scheduled to be finished by 2020.