Commentary & Perspective

Embracing Successes: The 2015 Student of Vision Finalists

By Laura Patch
Marketing Associate, Anita Borg Institute

At the 2015 Women of Vision Awards Banquet, I had the honor of ushering our two Student of Vision finalists, Camila Fernandez Achutti and Julia Edwards. Their journeys were drastically different, but both women have made inspiring efforts to change the tech industry.

I was excited to meet both Camila and Julia, but I was also a bit worried they might be standoffish with each other. Luckily, they were both excited to meet each other as well.

A Master’s student at the University of São Paolo, Camila flew in all way from Brazil to attend the banquet in Santa Clara, CA. She created Women in Computing, the largest Portuguese-language website focused on women in tech. Camila also serves as a national ambassador for the Technovation Challenge, an all-female mobile app competition.

Julia was a senior computer science major and economics minor at Smith College. As a former Google intern, Julia was quite familiar with Silicon Valley. Julia established Smithies in Computer Science, the first club at the college devoted to recruiting and retaining women in the field. She also organized a campus-wide hackathon to combat Hollywood’s image of computer hackers.

Both of them worked hard (and still do) to draw attention to the gender gap in technology.

2015 Student of Vision, Julia EdwardsCamila and Julia hit it off immediately. Even though they were vying for the same award, they had watched each other’s videos and wanted to know more about the other’s work. Whenever we had down time, Julia and Camila discussed their stories, efforts and visions for the future. I think Julia summed it up best – it didn’t matter who won, just being there with the chance to meet people from the industry was a reward.

And meet people they did! During stage rehearsals, I introduced them to our keynote speaker, Caroline Fairchild. As finalists, they were invited to the private reception where they met with representatives from ABI’s partners and sponsors. After the banquet, crowds gathered to meet each of them. Their videos and stories made such an impression that one of our sponsors, Symantec, offered a second scholarship so that both could attend the 2015 Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC) in Houston.

2015 Student of Vision Winner, Camila Fernandez Achutti Ultimately, Camila won the ABIE award, but my experience with her and Julia went beyond the competition. It was a day of embracing other women’s successes and being inspired by their efforts, not of pulling someone down so that you can rise up. When I saw them at GHC in October, they were both delighted to be there and continue networking with other women in the industry. The Student of Vision ABIE Award is a perfect example of ABI’s mission to connect, inspire and guide women in computing.

Are you a student that’s ready to share your vision for the future? Submit a short video about how technology innovation can solve important problems and make a better future before January 4, 2016. You could win $1,000 and a scholarship to GHC 2016!

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This year as Women of Vision will be a more intimate affair, only the winner will attend the banquet.