Grace Hopper: Connecting, Inspiring

November 18, 2011

Women from the INI came together with others in the areas of computer science and engineering for the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, November 9-12, in Portland, Ore. The annual conference attracts a growing audience of movers and shakers in the corporate, government and academic communities.

Luz Jaramillo (MS22), a student in the Master of Science in Information Technology-Information Security program, was honored to be a panelist for a talk about jobs in the industry sector, titled "What if we explore the paths on industry careers?" She had proposed and organized the panel discussion with a group called Latinas in Computing--through which she got involved as a result of her attending last year's Grace Hopper conference.

"It was a pleasure to share the stage with a group of brilliant and valuable women on the IT field," said Luz. "It was very rewarding to help other women to find their passion and to contribute to their professional development."

In addition, four INI students attended through conference scholarships from the INI that covered their registration and travel expenses. The INI awarded the conference scholarships in the fall through an essay contest among the members of Women@INI (WINI) student organization. The attendees said the conference gave their inspiration a boost and increased their connections. "I think the conference makes me more confident in my career path," said Evelyn Ying Zhang (MS23), an attendee in the Master of Science in Software Management program, who benefitted from the opportunity to talk openly with a variety of professionals.

Attendees had many sessions to choose from that included topics from technical speakers, academia, industry, student interests and career development.

"The conference was an awesome experience for me. I got to learn a lot from the sessions," said Ruta Gadkari (MS23), an attendee in the Master of Science in Information Networking program. "I gained insight about many new avenues and research areas in the field of computer science."

GHC attendees"The most valuable experience I had was participating in several speed mentoring and roundtable sessions where I had the opportunity to speak with many technical women in executive positions,” said Luz. "They helped me to get a different perspective for my career path and gave valuable information."

The INI is a silver-level sponsor of the conference, which has proven to be an excellent networking event for connecting with students, alumni and industry partners alike. The INI staff busily met with attendees at the conference booth, attracting faces both old and new, including INI alumni representing Microsoft, Apple and Hewlett-Packard who said hello.

The social aspect of the event proved to be as successful as the professional development with opportunities to relax and have fun, such as cocktail hours and evenings out.

"During the Grace Hopper Celebration I made wonderful friends with whom I had a great time, especially during the Sponsor Night Party," said Luz.

Ruta added, "If given an opportunity, I would definitely like to attend the conference again next year."

Pictured at top: Luz Jaramillo, MS22, (on left) poses in front of the banner for the Latinas in Computing panel discussion. Pictured at bottom: The conference scholarship recipients included (left to right) Nandita Rao, Natalie Bennett, Ruta Gadkari and Evelyn Ying Zhang.