Guest blog by Mrs Hudson-Findley, Director of Digital Learning, Enterprise and Sustainability
Mrs Hudson-Findley reflects on the achievements of Alex Gentry (Lower Sixth) and Athena Kurtti (Upper Sixth), who sailed through the shortlisting process at the FDM Everywoman in Tech Awards, with Alex progressing as one of the five finalists.
I wonder if Bill Gates’ or Reshma Saujani’s teachers ever watch the news and sit back and think “I knew it”? If they saw the young versions of the tech giants that they are today and knew they would change the world someday? As a teacher of 20 plus years, it is rare to find a student that gives you that feeling. That knowledge that they will go far and be an influencer in their field. It’s even more rare to find two. Athena Kurtti (Upper Sixth) and Alex Gentry (Lower Sixth) fit that bill to a “tee”.
When I saw that the FDM Everywoman in Tech Awards were holding a category for the One to Watch, I immediately thought of Athena and Alex. The category is sponsored by Computercentre and is for girls aged 11-18 who are creating a positive influence within STEM. The category description states “This award seeks to identify young game-changers and is open to inspirational students”. Considering the work that Athena and Alex regularly contribute to clubs, competitions, various awards, school projects and so much more than I have space here to mention, the nomination statement practically wrote itself.
Athena is one of the co-founders of the Lovelace Society, who meet every Friday at first lunch to investigate and probe the boundaries of what is happening in the world of Computer Science. With the help of Digital Design Creator and teacher of Computer Science, Ms Davies, she has organised activities, competitions and various guest speakers from the world of Tech. She is also one of the key members of our school’s Digital Outreach project which seeks to help combat Digital exclusion in the elderly. Athena freely admits that she is “in love” with computing and wants to help others to discover their passion for computers too. When I asked Athena how she are doing this, she seemed to ignite and enthusiastically told me all about how she wants to help individuals to understand that people do not need to be “good” or a genius to be involved in computing.
Alex is equally passionate about STEM. Alex’s CV is not only impressive, it’s growing. To date she has over 38 various achievements and awards under her belt. The interesting fact about this list is that the majority of them are achievements that are for the enhancement of her peers and her school. She is the founding member of Bedford Girls’ School’s STEM Society. Through this she is giving students in Years 7- Upper Sixth an opportunity to enjoy a fun and safe environment to explore these subjects to grow their knowledge and skills. From an outside perspective it may be easy to view Alex’s achievements as a collection or list from a talented student. What isn’t easy to understand from her impressive list of experience is the attitude and energy that radiates from her as she speaks about what these achievements have meant for her fellow students. For her, the passion comes from what she calls the “creation of possibility”. In STEM, for her the magic and wonder comes from being at “the forefront of modern understanding”. She loves that through combining these subjects she can create “whole new possibilities”.
Alex and Athena sailed through the shortlisting process. The panel were inspired and impressed with the hard work and commitment that these two individuals have demonstrated for their peers.
The final Award will be decided at a prodigious dinner and ceremony at the Park Plaza Hotel in London on Thursday 9th March. Alex has progressed to be one of the five finalists and I wish her the best of luck. She won’t need it though. I have every confidence that I will be one of those teachers who will be watching both her and Athena change the world someday.