Nicholas Kee, Team Leader, C4U
Jamaica has a shortage of good-paying jobs for its youngest working-age citizens. You would never know that from hearing Nicholas Kee talk about his ideas and plans for the future. It is his childhood past, along with a kind of confident humility, that may hold the key to that future. “I started serious programming when I was twelve,” he remembers, quickly pointing out a classmate who started at eight, just in case he might be singled out as exceptional.
Like many Jamaican teens, however, Nicholas doesn’t have the resources to support his love for technology or his quest to attend college overseas. If he has his way, he’ll join the burgeoning number of youth in the Caribbean who will need to work smartly with innovation and entrepreneurship in order to forge a career and a living. Once he started his college application process in earnest, he thought that a mobile application for finding foreign-student scholarships was something he wished he had. So he and a team from the Robotics & Engineering Club at Ardenne High School took on the challenge to build one.
Kee already knows something about making money from commercial programming, writing code for government pharmacies islandwide, allowing them to streamline and simplify prescriptions and record-keeping, he explained, “improving the system and making it Web-based, leading to improved efficiency and usability.” He hasn’t stopped there. “I’m working on an app for a device that scans items and gives information on prescriptions,” he says, “such as where it’s in stock on the island.”
His team depends on the delegation of individual functions, allowing the group to maximize the potential of all their talents, bringing them together to make something cohesive. “If C4U works really well,” he says, “the plan is to take it to academic counselling agencies such as Versan, AIM and A-QuEST, and later to corporations.”
Alexis Lyew, C4U
She is idealistic but focused, a reformed artist managing a full plate of business and science classes. But that hasn’t stopped Ardenne High’s Alexis Lyew from maintaining her keen interest in visual arts. “I was into art and design,” she says, “and started to use Photoshop when I was nine, around the time we got electricity at home. I thought I wanted to be a graphic designer, but I stopped drawing in 8th grade.”
The determined 12th grader once ran for school president just because the leading candidate looked as if he would be elected unopposed. A member of the school’s Junior Achievement, Science and Robotics & Engineering clubs, Alexis is the latter’s Assistant Treasurer; more importantly, she is also its interface designer for the club’s entry in the 2014 Digital Jam 3.0 scheduled for March 1-2 at the UWI Regional Headquarters in Kingston.
Her team’s project, C4U (College for You), is a mobile application that will help students planning to study overseas to find scholarships. Not surprisingly, Alexis and several of her peers are considering study at an overseas institution. They understand how difficult it is for foreign students to secure scholarship funding. “I’ve never seen this type of scholarship advertised anywhere, and a lot of people complain about finances,” she observes, including a lot of smart students who need the help.” So with her eyes firmly fixed on raising funds for her club, she and her team leader (another student seeking scholarships to study abroad) decided to do something about it.
Alexis’ design talents were immediately pressed into service as they worked on their application. She will design the look and feel of C4U, knowing that her early years on the internet mad her a natural for the task. “When I was on the social networking site Tumblr,” she remembers, “I used to copy and reproduce the buttons and icons I saw there. I’m also more the perfectionist type, staying up all night to make something right. And I’ve designed the logo already."