Building a bridge to close the gender gap in technology by empowering girls with training and confidence.

Suzette Ferdinand joined Winchester Community Access and Media (WinCAM) in 2014, Winchester’s public access television station which serves as a center for community media. Her involvement with community media started in 2006 when she attended the University of Hartford and obtained her BS degree in Multimedia and Web Design with a specialization in Television Production. Throughout the years, she gained knowledge of video production by interning at various media centers including Shrewsbury Media Connection and West Hartford Community Television. In 2011, she began her career as a part time Associate Producer at Wellesley Media and became the full time Community Program Producer within her first year of employment. Now as the Training and Production Coordinator at WinCAM, Suzette is responsible for the design and implementation of classes for members in all areas of video production including in the studio, in the field and editing. Her passion for editing comes in handy, as she loves to be inventive when it comes to developing new concepts for projects. She is committed to building the membership and bolstering the good reputation of WinCAM within the community.

Interview with Suzette Ferdinand

Tell me a little bit about yourself. What called you to this work?

I was born and raised in Worcester, MA. Attended high school there as well and went to University of Hartford for my undergrad to study multimedia and television production. I remember being in school and having little interest in anything unless it was related to computers, technology, or multimedia. From after school programs to college internships and even my past and present jobs, they have all been linked to the technology world in one way, shape or form. It’s funny – I actually started college with the intent to study web design and I slowly but surely ended up in television production. My schedule consisted of everything from coding to JavaScript to typography to video manipulation. Once I started learning about media, cameras, and editing that’s when I knew I had a real interest in that field. Having the opportunity to create my own video projects was quite thrilling.

I would say my real niche is video editing. I love being inventive and creating compelling and visually appealing videos out of raw footage and that’s where I excel the most. Now in my current job, as a Training and Production Coordinator at WinCAM, I am able to train members and teach these skills to help them create engaging videos.

What did you observe as a need/gap within our community that your chosen occupation/profession might begin to fill?

I believe that the gap within our community definitely stems from the lack of women in the technology field. We as women must work hard to break down these gender barriers and become more versed in the technology fields. Having a technology based profession and also being the only woman staff member, woman of color at that, in this organization speaks volumes. In this male dominated field, it’s very important for us as women to make our mark and let it be known that we can achieve just as much as they can. We need to work together to end this gender technology gap and empower women not only nationally but globally as well.

Look ahead a bit, or back a bit, and tell us how you see this calling of yours enriching our common life. Any further dreams?

I hope that I can inspire young women to become involved in the technology field. Throughout my almost 3 years of being at WinCAM, I have seen hundreds of high school students come through our doors; many of which have gone on to college to study film and multimedia.

Every year during the month of April, WinCAM works together with the Technovation teams at the high school. Technovation is a technology competition for girls 10-18 years old who work together to write code and develop a mobile app that addresses a community issue. This is the type of program that is very empowering and uplifting for young women and I am thrilled to be part of the collaboration. I love to see young women in technology and be a part of this growing field. If I can empower one young woman to follow her dreams, be confident and not be afraid to successful in a male dominated field, I would feel accomplished. In the future, I hope to be a mentor to young women who may have an interest in technology but lack skills or confidence to follow their calling.

When one teaches, two learn is a known adage. What have been the highlight/have been the highlights of your experience so far?

I would say the highlight of my experience so far has been watching these members – which I’ve gotten close to over the years – progress; not only as individuals but especially with their video production skills. It’s very rewarding to see them create outstanding projects while integrating the knowledge that I’ve provided to them.

I agree with that quote wholeheartedly especially with my job being a mix of both training and production. I can definitely say that through my trainings and various productions, I continue to learn a considerable about of information from members and co-workers through troubleshooting and general questions. When it comes to editing, one of my favorite things to do is solve a problem. There have been a handful of times when a member has asked me “Suzette, how do you do this and is it possible for me to do that?” and when I don’t know it off the top of my head I’ll say “I’m not too sure but let me find out!” and 9 times out of 10, I’ll figure it out through trial and error or online research.

Since this is the month honoring women, who is one woman who has inspired you and why?

One woman that has inspired would hands down be my mother. She is a former immigrant of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, which is an island located in the Caribbean Sea. Being the 4th oldest of 10 children, it was vital for her to help out with household chores after her older siblings married and moved out of the house. From cooking every Sunday to feeding animals on the farm to growing produce, my mother worked tirelessly day in and day out. She definitely took a leap of faith when she moved to England, with no prior visits, for 8 years to attend school and become a nurse. In 1983, she came to America on a fiancé visa where she then married my father and remained married for the past 33 years. From St. Vincent to England and now to the United States, she has encountered new experiences and a sense of culture shock which she was forced to adapt to. She has done an outstanding job continuing her career in nursing and then to banking while being devoted to her husband and raising two children to become successful, educated adults. She continues to inspire me to work hard and strive for the best and I hope one day to become half the woman she is.

Any advice to share?

Absolutely! I encourage all young women especially minority women to never give up. You might feel like you can’t be successful because you are in the minority but keep at it. Find something you’re good at and become the best at it. Connect with others who share the same interests as you and gain knowledge from them. Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask questions – be brave!