Amazing Juleen

Amazing Juleen

The Digital Life

Wednesday, December 02, 2020

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Juleen Gentles has redoubled her efforts to convert Jamaica into a digital society, primarily through educational institutions and her work with young people. She is also using every chance she gets to build international bridges, particularly among young women.

In her day job, her goal is to allow patients to better manage their medical conditions. Her title says it all: digital product analyst at Medullan Inc, a digital health consultancy headquartered in Boston with offices in New Kingston, Jamaica.

“If there was ever a year that brought the importance of digital health to the forefront of our minds, it would be 2020. Public health concerns, the COVID-19 pandemic, the phenomenon of social distancing and the ongoing strain on health care resources worldwide have definitely shown us the importance of technology in streamlining medical processes. This full-time role is allowing me to gain timely insights and experience within a space that is projected to have monumental growth and global relevance during the years to come,” says Gentles.

She credits two educators with sparking her early interest in information technology. She speaks fondly of “amazing teachers” Careene McCallum-Rodney and Hakeem Moore at Immaculate Conception High School. They coached her to the top 5 in the Caribbean region for Caribbean Examination Council's (CXC) Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination IT examinations. Next, it was on to the University of Technology, Jamaica where she graduated earlier this year with first class honours in computing. She is proud to remain an active member of the School of Computing's Student Council.

Still just in her early 20s, Gentles has already had a mix of public and private sector experiences thanks to internships both at home and abroad. The list includes internships at eGov and Tax Administration of Jamaica, both public agencies which stepped up technology deployment long before the novel coronvirus pandemic.

Previous private sector roles included stints with the National Commercial Bank Innovation Internship Programme and Sagicor's Innovation Lab. Gentles hopes that many other young people will get similar opportunities. “Using my voice to advocate for equal opportunities within tech and access to STEM education for youth is a critical part of my mission,” she says.

In the role of tech ambassador, she has had a busy round of engagements. She secured the 2018 Huawei Seeds For the Future Internship Scholarship. It is an annual programme for top performing university students in tech across the world who spend time at the Huawei headquarters in Shenzhen, China, conducting ICT training and enjoying the cultural exchange. “I've served as ambassador for local and regional social enterprises such as Youth Can Do IT and Caribbean Girls Hack which has allowed me to help inspire and equip young Jamaicans with the skills and confidence to pursue and thrive in technical careers and to leverage ICT within their daily lives. One of my most notable experiences with Caribbean Girls Hack was presenting at a United Nations Women's meeting on the benefits of exposing girls across the Caribbean region to technology from an early age,” Gentles shares.

Her work has earned her a steady stream of awards. She attended the United Nations Telecommunications Union World Summit on the Information Society in 2018. The invitation came after she designed a system to make farming processes more efficient, especially in rural areas. Some of the world's best-known technology companies have also recognised her work. Microsoft saluted her with their Woman in Computing Award 2019 for her involvement and advocacy with the ICT space. She was a regional and university finalist for IBM's Call for Code for a prototype of a mobile application which guides households in planting and sharing food grown in backyards. Gentles was recently appointed as the Young Professionals Advisor on the Jamaica Computer Society's Council and aims to amplify the voices and opinions of young tech professionals on Jamaica's digital revolution. She is also determined to strengthen the relationship between her peers and more seasoned and experienced professionals.

Her wider goal is building new bridges between the Caribbean and the rest of the world. “Embracing my roots, forming bridges and rekindling bonds between the Caribbean region and the African continent is something I am extremely passionate about,” she says. “I've been able to tie this passion with my passion for technology as director of Partnerships and Community at the Afribbean Tech Collective, an organisation committed to building multigenerational communities of African and Caribbean women pursuing creative and tech-based careers.”

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