Angel Vanellison grew up navigating technology with ease. She played video games and built computers with her father, and attended Georgia Tech’s technology camp for kids at the Center for Education, Integrating Science, Mathematics and Computing.
Even so, when the Savannah native enrolled in Georgia Southern University with a major in computer science, she was unsure about her direction. In her sophomore year, representatives with the nonprofit Women in Technology (WIT) visited campus and everything changed. Vanellison gained clarity on her major - switching to Information Technology. She graduated in May.
“WIT offered me the opportunity to be exposed to different areas of technology and see if it’s something that I wanted to invest myself in,” said Vanellison.
Women in Technology started in 1992 with the goal of empowering girls in STEAM - science, technology, engineering arts and math. Part of its program includes inviting students to visit women executives at their offices to see first hand the variety of work they do.
“We connect the dots by bringing girls in [middle school], high school and college together with women in careers,” said Penny Collins, WIT executive director. “It is an incredible wealth of support mentoring, coaching and training.”
WIT sponsors such as State Farm and First Data teach students tech coding and design thinking. “T-Mobile – they teach social skills and tech skills so when [graduates] enter the workforce, what they have learned comes together and augments each other,” added Collins.
Fiserv software company and First Data each awarded a $5,000 scholarship to Vanellison following her visit. She is also in the midst of an internship in software development at Fiserv, in Alpharetta, that ends in August.
WIT hosted a fundraiser recently, WIT Connect at the Georgia Aquarium. Nearly 800 corporate executives celebrated student achievements and awarded scholarships. WIT Connect has raised more than $3.2 million.
Empowered by WIT with a greater understanding of what she can do with STEAM, Vanellison has started a graphic and production design business, and will soon pursue an MBA.
“I’m able to see how art and tech have a beautiful relationship,” Vanellison said. “It’s amazing.”
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