By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager
“Attend a networking conference if you can,” said Irene Odion, a Workstation Support Technician at Bellevue University and a student in BU’s Master of Science in Management of Information Systems (MSMIS) program. “You never know who you will meet.”
Irene knows of what she speaks having traveled to Orlando, Florida for the 2017 Grace Hopper Celebration, the world’s largest gathering of women technologists. The annual event, held every fall, brings research and career interests of women in computing to the forefront. It is named after Grace Murray Hopper, a computer scientist and United States Navy Rear Admiral. Irene earned a scholarship to attend the conference that covered conference registration, flight, hotel, stipend, and a meal card. She earned the spot based on her application, as well as recommendations from Adjunct Professor Steven Wright and Academic Advisor Glenda Masteller. She was one of 657 scholarship recipients selected from a field of 15,000.
“It was indeed an amazing experience. I heard inspirational stories from great women in tech, from Telle Whitney of AnitaB.org, Melinda Gates of the Gates Foundation, and Debbie Sterling of GoldieBlox,” Irene said. “I had the opportunity to network and collaborate with people of like minds. I met with women who overcame various challenges and made a mark in tech, coding, and computing. It inspires me to strive to reach the zenith of my career despite the challenges and hurdles.”
Irene came to the United States a little over a year ago from her home in Abuja, Nigeria. She enrolled in the University’s MSMIS program with a concentration in Information Security Management after researching the school and the program online. The program’s curriculum, recognition of the school from the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance/Cybersecurity, and the affordability of the program were determining factors in her decision to enroll.
“I was passionate about technology and constantly dreamed of working in the global technology industry. So, I decided to pursue a master’s degree in order to make my dream come true,” she said. “I have enjoyed a lot about the program, ranging from meeting professionals to learning a lot of functional and technical material in a relatively short period of time.”
CIS 633 – Information Technology Project Management, taught by Professor David Wilson, is one of Irene’s favorite classes thus far.
“He not only knows his material, but also understands his students and their diverse cultural backgrounds. He gives realistic and practical examples to convey his message and thus easily makes a connection with his students,” Odion said. “He also took a creative and hands-on approach to help students learn the course, which was a driving factor in helping us better understand the material.”
In addition to her academic responsibilities, Irene is a student worker in the IT department.
“Some of my responsibilities include providing IT support for all users in the university campus by analyzing and resolving system/network problems encountered, maintaining accurate inventory and reporting all hardware and software assets, and ensuring regular updates of antivirus and other security packages are installed on user systems,” she said. “What I love most about my job are the people I work with, my wonderful colleagues,” said Irene, also crediting her supervisor, Dipendra Bhujel, for her success.
Family has also played a large role in Irene’s success.
“I have been fortunate to have an amazing support system, starting with Prince and Mrs. D.I Odion (her parents), my siblings, Jeffery and Esther Smith (her guardians), Orunor Andrew Abohwo, Imoukhuede Ehimika, friends, colleagues, and loved ones,” she said.
So whether it is networking at a conference or helping to keep Bellevue University’s network up and running, Irene has it covered.