viNGN Participates in Code Like A Girl! Public Forum

The SmartStart Initiative introduces girls to opportunities in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics fields

Krithika Iyer and Rebecca Hoffart at the Code Like A Girl! Public Forum (Aug. 12, 2017)

ST. THOMAS, Virgin Islands (August 12, 2017) – The Virgin Islands Next Generation Network, Inc. participated in the first Code Like A Girl! Public Forum on Saturday, August 12, 2017 in the Chase Auditorium at the University of the Virgin Islands. This event concluded a week’s worth of activities surrounding the Code Like A Girl! Summer Camp (August 7-11) at All Saints Cathedral School.

The purpose of the Public Forum was to provide a showcase for the campers, and to raise awareness in our community of opportunities for and challenges to women in Computer Science, Information Technology and STEM-related careers. The activity was made possible by grant funding from the National Center for Women & Information Technology, or NCWIT, and their AspireIT K-12 Outreach Program.

With the goal of ending the disparity of women in Information Technology careers, AspireIT establishes “near-peer” connections among students, with high school and college students encouraging younger girls towards pursuing careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Science, or STEM. The girls are also exposed to diverse thought processes, entrepreneurship and leadership training.

The camp’s organizer Krithika Iyer is the founder of The SmartStart Initiative; she was joined by All Saints Cathedral School teachers Rebecca Hoffart (Computer and Library Science) and Michelle Ventura (Mathematics and Spanish) to design a program that introduced students to engaging programming and coding exercises, with visits from local and national technology professionals, entrepreneurs, instructors and executives.

During the forum, students presented a variety of projects to demonstrate what they had learned during the camp, with the focus being on solving a real-world problem or addressing an issue important to the community.

As the results were being tabulated, a panel discussion on the joys and challenges for women in technology fields featured Tamara King (Broadband VI), Anita Davis (viNGN), Aimee Sanchez (UVI), and Lena Steele-Williams (Engineer, retired). Zandria Acosta (UVI) and Sara Chipps ( could not be present, but were acknowledged for their contributions as guest speakers during the camp sessions.

Sponsors of the Code Like A Girl! Summer Camp were NCWIT’s AspireIT program, All Saints Cathedral School, Consortium Enabling Cybersecurity Opportunities & Research (CECOR) at UVI, We are Family Foundation, YWCA of the USVI, University of the Virgin Islands, and Kokopelli Café.

Winners, Grades 6-12 (Apps)

3rd Place:
• Ryann Moore and Akayah Rodriguez, “Allergen-Free Products & Resources To Locate Them”
2nd Place:
• Makeda Cabey and Vidhika Khemani, “Code Like A Girl!”
1st Place
• Mimi Boumedine and Drishti Tejwani, “VI Clean and Green”

Winners, Grades 3-5 (Animations)
3rd Place:
• Halina Diehl, “How to Start Your Own Business”
2nd Place:
• Siara Abbot “Helping Animals in Trouble”
1st Place:
• Kaelene Poole “Malware Fights”

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