A Rose Among Thorns

A rose among the thorns - Natalie Rose carves her niche in computer technology

Published:Thursday | November 22, 2018 | 12:00 AMKeisha Hill/Senior Gleaner Writer
Natalie Rose

Women have come a far way in the workplace. However, despite improved access to education and work, women make up a very small part of the computing sector, occupying less than a quarter of the jobs across the world.

Natalie Rose, head of the Information Technology Department at the University College of the Caribbean (UCC), a trailblazer in the field of computing, both locally and overseas, is challenging women to become more involved in the profession.

“Women have played a key role in the development of computing as far back as the early 19th century. It is a wonderful and exciting profession and is not just a job for males,” Rose said.

While a student at Bishop Gibson High School in Manchester, Rose explored different areas as career options. However, it was while attending the Northern Caribbean University that she immersed herself in the world of computer technology.

LOVE FOR COMPUTERS

“Initially, I did not want to become a teacher. I am from a family of teachers, and I wanted to try something different. I loved the challenge affixed with computer technology and seeing that there were only a few women in the field at the time, I was motivated even more,” Rose said.

After two years at NCU, she completed a bachelor’s of science degree in computing and management studies at the University of Technology. There was no turning back for her at this juncture as she started her first job at The University of the West Indies as an information technologist.

“I was excited. I now had the opportunity to put into practice what I had learnt over the years. Imagine turning up at work in heels and then putting on a coat and going about your task with tools in hand. That was me,” Rose said.

“I managed their computer network, and helped to build out the department’s website. I was website designer, network administrator and computer technician,” she added.

For over four years, Rose worked as the only female in her field in her department. She also continued to build her capacity with on-the-job training, and as luck would have it, the area of teaching she did not want to be involved in literally dropped into her lap.

“I was asked to participate in a training course for which I was also asked to teach. After two weeks, I realised that I loved teaching,” Rose said.

After pursuing her master’s degree at the University of Nottingham, Rose worked as a programmer in an engineering company, where she wrote codes for sensors in parking lots. These sensors determined how many cars were in the parking lot and indicated when the parking lot was full.

RETURNING TO JAMAICA

However, with an intense drive to give back to her country, Rose returned to the island and joined the UCC family as a part-time lecturer. “With all the knowledge I had garnered, I felt it was best to return to Jamaica and help to build the area of computer technology. It’s one of the best decisions I had ever made,” Rose said.

Unavoidable, she would sail on the high seas once again in 2014 but returned to the island in 2016, when she became the head of the Information Technology Department a UCC. Since then, she has been working to strengthen the skills and expertise of the students. Under her stewardship, the institution has done well at the Microsoft Imagine Cup competition and other local competitions.

She was also instrumental in re-energising the institution’s Information Technology club, where a few of her students are currently working on an app to alert and notify persons suffering from epileptic seizures.

“It’s a great job, and I want females to understand that it can be done. I also want person to know that they do not have to leave Jamaica to make it in life. Even if they migrate they can still contribute to the development of the country. If we all go away, what are we going to come back to,” Rose said.

Currently working on her doctoral studies, Rose knows more than 20 programming languages and has created softwares for her personal use.

keisha.hill@gleanerjm.com