Amazon mentorship winner Genna Holliss is on a mission to bridge the STEM gender gap

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Article by: Gaynor Orvis

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BSc (Hons) Creative Computing student Genna Holliss recently fought off tough competition to be chosen for the Amazon Future Engineer Mentorship. Her university education is now sponsored by Amazon Web Services (AWS) for three years. She will also be appointed a dedicated Amazon mentor and receive expert career guidance and support. 

This achievement is a testament to Genna's relentless drive and ambition. She is on a mission to make careers in STEM (the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics) more accessible to women and to inspire more students to pursue their dreams. Here she chats about what the mentorship programme means to her, and some of her big plans for the future.

Massive congratulations for being awarded the Amazon Future Engineer Mentorship. How are you feeling?

I am so excited and honoured, it really means a lot to me that people are recognising my hard work and achievements, also that they believe in me. I feel like this belief will really help me fulfill my full potential 

Can you tell us a little bit about what the mentorship means to you? 

Previously in my college, I had an opportunity to take part in a project with AWS and Career Colleges Trust. From this I learnt so much more about AWS and the opportunities they provide for education and learning.

Before I took part in this project, I didn't really have a career path, but this inspired me to study at Ravensbourne and take up the exciting Creative Computing course. The bursary and mentorship will help me build new connections within AWS, and give me much more experience working with a leading industry.

How would you like to encourage and inspire more students to pursue their dreams?

I am a big advocate for following your dreams; no dream is too big or too small. Everyone and anyone can achieve what they set their heart and mind to.

I love telling people my story to help and inspire others. From the age of six I was diagnosed with ADHD and my concentration skills were not very good. Although I battled every day I came out of school with some great grades.

I studied Graphic Design at my college and through this I had the amazing opportunities with AWS. I built some great connections with them, and it also inspired me to pursue this new career path. I think positive things happen from hard work and consistency. If you have these skills, you will reach your goals.

What are your hopes for the future?

I hope that within five years I am in a stable career as a Junior Software Engineer or Developer - there really aren't many women in these roles, and I'd love to help close the gap. 

What initially appealed to you about Ravensbourne and your chosen degree?

Applying to study at Ravensbourne was one of the best decisions I have ever made! I was inspired that Ravensbourne works with leading companies like the BBC and AWS to help students get noticed and support them into employment after graduation. The 90% employability rate speaks for itself, and of course that is one of the main goals for every person studying.

Could you tell us about the benefits of studying with us?

For me one of the biggest benefits of studying at Ravensbourne are the people. Even though most of our lessons and contact has been online this year due to COVID-19,  the staff, tutors and students in my year have all built a fantastic bond already.

There are so many different opportunities at the university too; for example Unibuddies, Student Ambassadors, Course Reps, Amazon Future Engineer Bursary. There are so many ways to make some extra cash while studying and to help out within the university at the same time. 

Unlike most universities, Ravensbourne is a university that works really closely with the creative industries to give students the skills and experience needed to enter employment in the relevant creative fields. 

Finally, the high employment rate. This really does speak for itself. The fact that 90% of Ravensbourne students entered employment in 2020 and after such a crazy year too is just incredible!

Find out more about the Computing courses available and the Ravensbourne and Amazon collaboration.