UPDATE: Tirelo was able to join us in Denver; mostly self-funded. We were able to defray some of her expenses due to the generosity of STEM-Trek donors and friends. Thank you!
Tirelo was among 35 from a dozen countries who applied for travel grants that would allow them to attend the “Understanding Risk in Shared CyberEcosystems” cybersecurity workshop that will be held Nov. 11-16 in Denver, Colorado during the annual supercomputing conference, or SC17.
While her application reviewed extremely well, factors beyond Tirelo’s control worked against her. First of all, she’s a student, and this particular STEM-Trek call for participation required applicants to work at least 50 percent in a professional role supporting students, faculty and staff who use High Performance Computing (HPC).
And, that she does. But she’s a student nonetheless.
Another female student from her school also applied, and ranked slightly higher. She made the cut, but Tirelo didn’t.
Since it was important to have representation from many African countries who participate in the Shared CyberEcosystems Project, and since the Southern African Development Community HPC Forum leader is also from the same country, her nationality worked against her.
Why should we give Tirelo a second chance before others?
In her application essay, she expressed an interest in and has an opportunity to pay-it forward through multiple circles of influence:
1. She is a peer educator and mentor.
2. She works at an Innovation Hub where regional business and industry stakeholders seek advice about HPC.
3. She’s a founder of a Computer Science Student Society where she plans to introduce “Cybersecurity Coffee Sessions” for graduate and postgraduate students so they can share ideas and discuss strategies for mitigating unique cyber-threats; these discussions could lead to collaborative projects that would benefit the industry.
4. She interacts with the SADC HPC Ecosystems project where she has the opportunity to ally with people from 17 African nations who share common goals and interests.
5. She hopes to empower others to become champions in the following arenas:
a. Gender Parity in Cybersecurity & Women in HPC.
b. Advocacy for a greater investment in research funding and cybersecurity.
More reasons: we need more women in HPC, and there are few in Africa. She holds a multi-year visa; it would be too late for to apply for a visa otherwise. Her SC registration will be waived by the conference which will help. The two female students from the same school are willing to share a room–this is a huge savings!
The URISC funding pie has already been allocated, so we have a little more than one week in which to raise another $3,000 to support Tirelo’s participation. With your help, we can bridge this gap via tax-deductible donations to STEM-Trek. #HelpTireloTravel to URISC@SC17