Students promote interest in information technology

Student Ambassadors from The Florida Information Technology Career Alliance grant program are encouraging students in grades K-12 to pursue more computer-driven careers.  

In the last decade, FAMU has received over a million dollars in funding to address the national underrepresentation of minorities in the computer profession.  The Florida Information Technology Career Alliance grant is one of many programs created.

The FITC program, which was created to increase the amount of information technology professionals in North Florida. Also, it is  active at Florida State University.

Edward Jones Ph.D., a Department of Computer & Information Sciences professor, said that the grant is used to increase the number of IT professionals in the Florida workforce.

“The components are to recruit students by increasing the relationship between the universities and high schools, to retain students by helping them become more successful and finally to aid in the placement,” Jones said.

Jones added that students were not limited to the FITC grant program.

“We actually had a scholarship program dedicated entirely to female students. We also had another program called the STARS alliance where students had a specific set of activities that they conducted to increase the amount of students in IT,” Jones said.

The idea that information technology is a solitary work field plays an impactful role in small numbers of IT professionals entering the workforce.

Arlisha McQueen, an instructor in the College of Science and Technology, said there is so much to do in IT.

“You have the programmers that sit behind the desk and just program,” McQueen said. “You have people responsible for making sure networks are properly running. You have people writing business apps for iPhones and things like that. I understand why people think we sit in front of a computer everyday, but IT touches everything.”

Morgan Marshall, an FITC Ambassador and Information Technology student from Wilmington, Del., believed that her position as an FITC Ambassador allowed her to be a role model for women.

“Because I am in a major that is hard and not a lot of females are in, I think I can show them that you can strive for greatness,” Marshall said. “I plan to be a role model for women that stay away from this major because it seems to be intimidating. People automatically assume that you have to be super smart but it’s about putting in the effort to learn.”

Some of the FlTC Ambassadors were experienced seeing the results of visiting several schools throughout North Florida.

James Smith, an FITC Ambassador and Information Technology student from Miami, said students were very grateful.

“I had one kid tell me that he couldn’t wait to finish school and come to FAMU and do what I do,” Smith said.