Shanique Fagan: IT is a grand opportunity for girls

Career & Education reporter

Sunday, April 29, 2018

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SHANIQUE Fagan is grateful for the exposure she received at the International Telecommunication Union's (ITU) Girls in ICT Day Caribbean Hackathon last year.

Fagan, who was a part of the winning Northern Caribbean University (NCU) team, believes that it is an experience that any girl who has an interest in information technology (IT) must have.

“My hackathon experience last year was amazing. It was fun. It was nothing that I had been to before. I did not know that there were so many girls who were actually into IT,” she said when Career & Education caught up with her last Thursday at the second annual Girls in ICT Day Hackathon at the at the Mona Visitors' Lodge.

“I realised that even high school girls were building stuff. They were building applications; I found that amazing. My team, we went there kind of sceptical because we were like, yes this is probably going to be hard.”

However, they outdid themselves at the competition. Her team created a mobile security app in less than four hours. She said she was immensely proud of herself and her teammates for achieving this.

“We did the prototype in less than an hour. It was a working prototype,” she said.

The app was designed with a platform to allow people to reach out for help in the event of an urgent situation.

“Essentially what the app did was, you could set a recipient to receive a text message from you in the case of an emergency. So if you're walking down the street and you feel kinda threatened, you can shake the phone and the app will come up. You click the button or shake and it will send a message and your location to the person set to be your recipient,” Fagan explained.

“We were thinking about developing it, then we were told of Jamaica having another app (Stay Alert App) already. We wanted to actually contact them and see if we could add anything to the app that is existing now.”

The team's performance was so impressive that they were offered internships at a well-established local financial institution. Fagan said that following her internship, the company hired her as a relief engineer.

“It's a job title that I didn't know existed prior to my employment. It's funny because it's everything that I really wanted to do. I like software programming, but it's not something I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I also liked infrastructure which would have been networking and troubleshooting the PC. A relief engineer is a mixture of both.”

She added: “So what I do is, whenever an application is developed they're given to us, my team, to deploy in different environments. And not only to deploy, but troubleshoot issues. We work on databases. We ensure that the server that the application is on is properly configured...”

Fagan expressed that lessons have advanced, in terms of the level of exposure to IT knowledge at the secondary level. She recounted that she was not exposed to coding and animation in high school, and she was impressed with the high school students' level of ability displayed at last year's hackathon.

According to Fagan, most people are of the misconception that IT is solely for men. But she firmly believes that more people should be aware of this grand opportunity for girls.

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