Novos empowered at tech conference

By Kallie Delis and Anna Wright

From left, Megan Canavarros, Maria Shehata, Haylee Millar, Assistant Professor Tania Roy, Selena Goods, Rain Kwan.
From left, Megan Canavarros, Maria Shehata, Haylee Millar, Assistant Professor Tania Roy, Selena Goods, Rain Kwan.

Five computer science students from New College were among 25,000 people gathered in Orlando Oct. 1-4 for a conference focused on increasing the impact of women in technology.

New College students Selena Goods, Haylee Millar, Megan Canavarros, Maria Shehata and Rain Kwan received full scholarships from the conference organizer,, to attend the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, a yearly event that includes guest speakers, workshops and networking opportunities in specialized tracks including Artificial Intelligence, Computer Systems Engineering, Data Science, Emerging Technology and Security/Privacy.

Attendees Haylee Millar and Megan Canavarros answered questions via email while they were at the conference:

What have you learned from the speakers?

Megan Canavarros: A lot! Since GHC is a conference that is all about women in tech specifically, there’s a lot of emphasis on women empowerment and support throughout all of the talks, no matter the subject. I’ve attended talks that covered everything from different types of technologies and algorithms that are used to detect breast and cervical cancer, networking sessions with all types of professionals within the field of technology, and talks from women CEOs about how to overcome internal and external barriers to achieve professional success as a woman!

What are you bringing back to campus or carrying with you for the future?

Haylee Millar: The opportunities out there, in both industry and academia, is vast. The conference leaves me hopeful that women and other minorities in computer science will be wholly supported in the future. In the meantime, I’m going to be pursuing my own personal goals, while supporting my peers around me! We have to keep supporting one another.

What do you and the other students talk about in between sessions?

Megan Canavarros: We usually talk about what we thought of the speaker or the session. I’ve definitely commented more than once about how huge everything is! The keynote speech was held in a room that was big enough for a huge concert, and there were over 20,000 people in the room.

Do you have any new ideas for thesis or projects?

Megan Canavarros: This conference has definitely given me personal insight that I can use to advance my career in the future. It has also helped me to solidify my interest in combining technology and healthcare, which may be a potential thesis topic!

Q: What will make this experience memorable?

Megan Canavarros: The speakers and the other attendees are definitely what make the conference memorable. There are so many successful, powerful, knowledgeable women speaking here who are so generously sharing their experiences and work. The other attendees are all so smart and driven and sharp and eager to learn! It’s such a cool experience to be in an environment with so many people who look like you and are pursuing similar things! The sheer magnitude of this conference is also very memorable.

Haylee Millar: Well, I have never been to a conference of this scale before — about 25,000 people attended! My entire conference experience was paid for through, as I was a student scholar. Being able to enjoy the entire experience without having to worry about money was incredible. I got to talk to so many cool companies and meet people from all over the world! I would urge anybody who is even slightly interested to apply for next year.

— Kalie Delis and Anna Wright are interns in the Office of Communications and Marketing at New College of Florida.

Located in Sarasota, New College of Florida has educated intellectually curious students for lives of great achievement since its founding in 1960. As the State of Florida’s designated honors college, New College provides an exceptional education that transforms students’ intellectual curiosity into personal accomplishment. The 110-acre campus on Sarasota Bay is home to more than 700 students and 80 full-time faculty engaged in interdisciplinary research and collaborative learning. New College offers nearly 40 areas of concentration for undergraduates and a master’s degree program in Data Science.

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