Engi­neer­ing stu­dent gets schol­ar­ship boost

South Waikato News - - Out & About - KELLEY TANTAU

Be­fore Alaa Abuel­lif re­ceived a $1000 schol­ar­ship, she was trav­el­ling three hours on a bus each day.

The sec­ond-year Waikato Univer­sity stu­dent was liv­ing in Toko­roa and had to rely on pub­lic trans­port to travel to the univer­sity grounds in Hamil­ton.

Since re­ceiv­ing the Dame Jo­ce­lyn Fish Award, Abuel­lif has moved into a hall of res­i­dence on cam­pus, a step closer to be­com­ing a soft­ware en­gi­neer.

The award not only pro­vides Abuel­lif with a place to stay, but also makes study­ing a lit­tle eas­ier.

‘‘In engi­neer­ing we have evening classes and classes that start ear­lier, and the bus only runs from 9am to 5pm, so I was miss­ing many classes.

‘‘I had been do­ing tests ahead of my class, which meant they [other stu­dents] would have a bet­ter chance than me.

‘‘They might have an ex­tra five, six or seven hours to study, but I was so lim­ited, and I did the tests within the day when I was just get­ting out of a lec­ture. It was so stress­ful,’’ Abuel­lif said.

‘‘And for the lec­tures, I stayed from 9am to 5pm ev­ery­day at uni. Add to that, the hour and a half com­ing and go­ing back home, it is three hours’ bus time.

‘‘And af­ter I went home, I had to watch the lec­tures I missed. Some­times I was re­ally tired that I couldn’t even con­cen­trate.’’

The Dame Jo­ce­lyn Fish Award is of­fered to women stu­dents in the Waikato/bay of Plenty re­gion who are en­rolled full-time in a first de­gree pro­gramme in a non-tra­di­tional field for women.

It was granted to Abuel­lif by the Waikato Grad­u­ate Women Ed­u­ca­tional Trust.

The 21-year-old said soft­ware engi­neer­ing has al­ways been a ca­reer pi­o­neered by men. In her class, 80-90 per cent of her fel­low stu­dents are men, she said.

‘‘I think women are just not en­cour­aged to pur­sue it, for some rea­son. It’s ad­ver­tised as be­ing male-dom­i­nated, that’s why some women avoid it.

‘‘It doesn’t seem like a friendly en­vi­ron­ment for women,’’ Abuel­lif said.

‘‘Girls do com­puter sci­ence more than soft­ware engi­neer­ing. They think soft­ware engi­neer­ing is too dif­fi­cult, and it is to a cer­tain de­gree, but it’s re­ally in­ter­est­ing.

‘‘If you like cod­ing, why would it mat­ter? If you like math and cod­ing, then it’s the best de­gree.’’

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