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Friday 20 July 2018
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Send Sherezz to boot camp

Geoscientist/DJ needs help to go Spain

Sherezz Grant is running a FutureFunded campaign to attend a coding workshop in Barcelona, Spain.

Lisa Allen-Agostini

When Sherezz Grant started coding she found she liked it—and was good at it. Now the 29-year-old geoscientist and EDM producer/ DJ wants to take her studies further with a coding boot camp in Spain and she’s asking for the public’s help.

Grant, of Lange Park, Chaguanas has been accepted to Codeworks’ three-month immersive full stack software engineering boot camp in Barcelona. The camp is run in cycles and she has until April 27 to pay the discounted EUR 8,310 cost to get into the cycle for which she was accepted. To help meet the fee, she has started an account on FutureFunded, a crowdfunding website for women who want to learn tech skills.

“It all started back in 2013,” said Grant, aka Kattronique, her stage name as producer and DJ. She needed a web site for her music and the quote she got from a web designer here was too high for her budget so she decided to teach herself to write computer code and build it herself. The site got kudos because of some her “bohemian” tweaks to the theme, which is the packaged foundation web developers provide for users to personalise.

Then she became disillusioned with her music career. “I was getting frustrated with music; it started to feel like it wasn’t fun anymore. I made the decision to take a break,” Grant recalled in a voice interview over social media last week. Other things happened—a breakup, followed by the death of a beloved aunt—that led her to re-evaluate her life’s direction. Career and aptitude tests pointed her back to computer software engineering.

Grant, a geoscientist at the Ministry of Energy, said the idea of changing careers at her age is intimidating. Yet, “Web development was calling out to me. It was a blend of my creativity and my love for data and numbers and problem solving.” Grant completed an online web developer course with Udemy.com, and looked at schools where she could further her coding education. There are options here at home but Grant has always dreamt of studying abroad. Additionally, Codeworks has a 100 per cent graduate hiring rate, according to its web site, making her post-Barcelona prospects rosier.

There are relatively few women worldwide in careers in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). It’s why Grant is eligible for a discount from Codeworks, and why she has a FutureFunded account. “We aim to do just one thing and do it amazingly and right now (that thing) is to build the new generation of women in tech,” said FutureFunded in its FAQs.

“It’s a growing concern that there are so few women in tech and STEM fields; in Trinidad we don’t see that as much… But men still dominate the fields,” Grant said. By going into coding professionally, she’s “helping to close the gender gap, to add one more woman to the workforce in the tech industry.”

Software engineers literally build the Internet. The apps on your smartphone? Software engineers write the code for them.

“I want to create some revolutionary apps for women as well as the wider public,” Grant said. One idea she has is for a car maintenance app for women like her who don’t know much about automobiles and can’t trust their mechanics. Another idea: an app showing locations of taxi stands, which in Trinidad can move around depending on the time of day or night.

“(TT) has such a great opportunity to become more involved in tech,” Grant said. “I see (TT) being the Silicon Valley of the Caribbean. I know Jamaica and Barbados have a head start but I hope [the upcoming ICT Pro TT Conference in Port of Spain will be] a step in the right direction. You never know who in Trinidad would create the next life changing app that would disrupt the way we do things in the world.”

Sherezz Grant’s FutureFunded account had raised EUR 235 as of April 13. She has until April 27 to complete the fundraising or the money raised will revert to the donors and she will have to start over. She offers rewards to donors, such as customised web sites, coding workshops and app-building. Find her campaign here: https://futurefunded.co/project/sherezz/

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