Tech4Girls Jamaica Winner
On December 5, 2020, GSMA & EQUALS hosted a Tech4Girls workshop in Jamaica, in partnership with Caribbean Girls Hack. The EQUALS team interviewed trailblazing Abriana Cooper, the Jamaica Tech4Girls workshop award winner, to find out what she thought of the Tech4Girls experience and to hear more about her plans for her future.
EQUALS editorial team: Please tell us about yourself and your background.
Abriana: I’m 17 years old, I’ve lived in Jamaica all my life, and I am one of the Caribbean Girls Hack “tech girls”. My goal is to become a software engineer. It was not easy for me to choose my career path. At school I was good at a lot of subjects, and when it came to choosing subjects for my career, I chose them randomly, which I regret. The good thing is that, at my school, IT was compulsory, so I had the chance to do some programming and create websites. I realized I was really good at it and I really liked it, and this made me want a career in the tech field.
EQUALS editorial team: What motivated you to participate in the Tech4Girls workshop?
Abriana: I realized that I was getting older, but I still had no training or experience in the tech field. One evening, I was Googling for career ideas, browsing educational websites and Instagram pages, and I came upon the Caribbean Girls Hack website and the flyer about the workshop. I hesitated, feeling unsure whether I should sign up, but then I went ahead and registered. Then the Caribbean Girls Hack team contacted me and confirmed my participation in the Tech4Girls workshop!
EQUALS editorial team: Did you learn some new tech (or tech-related) concepts during the workshop? What are they?
Abriana: Yes! I learned about e-commerce and Shopify! I had never even heard of Shopify before. I had a tiny idea of what e-commerce was, but the workshop really broadened my vision and understanding of it. I realized e-commerce was something I could actually benefit from and that, with these tech skills, I could actually start a business in the future. After the workshop, I explored Shopify more!
"My goal is to become a software engineer."
EQUALS editorial team: What did you enjoy most during the workshop?
Abriana: I enjoyed meeting and interacting with people from different countries. I loved that the Tech4Girls workshop brought together girls from all the Caribbean islands and allowed them to be bold and brave and embrace themselves through tech!
EQUALS editorial team: What was/were the most memorable moment(s) of the workshop for you?
Abriana: I liked that I was able to meet other girls from Jamaica, for example, from Westmoreland. And I loved that I was able to help other girls when they were having issues with Shopify during the technical module. One of the girls was so grateful: she expressed her gratitude to me and that made me feel really nice.
EQUALS editorial team: Can you please tell us about your final project? What inspired your idea?
Abriana: At first, I thought of doing a project about clothing, but I changed my mind. I have always received compliments about my hair and people have always asked me what kind of products I use. On Instagram, I saw a project to educate girls about hair care, and that inspired me. Black girls really need to handle their hair with care. After that moment, all the ideas came naturally —the colors, the layout, the images — everything just came to me, and I switched from my initial clothing idea. My project is called Abrique.
EQUALS editorial team: How has the Tech4Girls workshop inspired you to continue learning new tech skills or even contemplate a career in the tech sector or tech-based entrepreneurship?
Abriana: Even though I had already thought about a career in IT & tech, I was demotivated because I had very little information. Then I found the Caribbean Girls Hack web page and learned about EQUALS and the Tech4Girls workshops. When I took part in the workshop and learned about Shopify, the whole experience showed me that there are women out there who actually have careers in tech. It inspired me and made me believe that if I want to pursue a career in tech, I must just go for it! My goal is to be a software engineer!
"Tech is a very good field to go into. So, just be brave and bold!"
EQUALS editorial team: How will you build on this tech skill set? Are there specific digital skills you would like to learn to deepen your new knowledge and to build your expertise?
Abriana: I will build on my tech skill set by continuing to practice and by sharing what I have learned with other girls in my computer class. I will try and motivate them to, you know, just DO IT. I would also like to learn more about game design, which has always interested me. I am a gamer girl. And I’m curious about hacking because I always see it in the movies! I would like to learn photo editing, and Canva, and I would love to learn more about coding and programming. These are just some of the things I would like to learn.
EQUALS editorial team: What are your goals and dreams for your future?
Abriana: I really want to make my parents proud. That is one of the most important things to me. I mean, I am doing it for myself and I’m doing what I like, but I also want to make them proud. I want to be proud of myself and be happy on my career path.
I applied to the University of Technology to do a Bachelor’s degree in computing, and I’ve been accepted! At first, I wanted to study abroad, but then I thought, “Why should I leave my country?” There are many opportunities abroad, but I want to stay here and help develop my country.
EQUALS editorial team: Is/are there (a) woman/women role model(s) you admire? What do you admire about her/them?
Abriana: My computer science teacher! She is always motivating us to follow our dreams, especially as women who want to pursue careers in tech. I look up to her. She makes the subject of IT so easy and fun! And she was the first person to teach me about Ada Lovelace, the first female programmer. I had never heard of Ada Lovelace! We hear a lot about men in tech but never about these women!
EQUALS editorial team: What advice would you give to encourage other girls and women to explore technology and/or take part in a Tech4Girls workshop?
Abriana: Just sign up! Don’t be demotivated! I was demotivated at first, but in the end, it was an amazing experience! Even if you have doubts, just go ahead and do it! Do your research. Tech is a very good field to go into. So, just be brave and bold! Just sign up for the Tech4Girls workshops! You can learn so much from it, as I did.
EQUALS editorial team: Would you like to add anything?
Abriana: While I was doing the workshop, I discovered that there was a competition, and I looked around at my classmates and thought, “There are so many girls from all across the Caribbean doing this workshop, so what is the point? I will never win.” But the instructor encouraged me to have confidence in myself and just do my best. And I ended up being the winner! Even if you doubt yourself, and no matter what situation you are in, you can always strive and always work hard, and you can be a winner!
I’d like to add that if you are a “girl in tech”, you chose an awesome field! Being part of Caribbean Girls Hack and Tech4Girls is excellent!
More info about Tech4Girls: equals.org/tech4girls