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Student among winners of Caribbean-wide tech competition

Thursday, July 17, 2014
Proud parents, Eila Grant-Fraser and Ronald Fraser, are all smiles as they hug their talented daughter Gionieva.

An 18-year-old Trinidadian was awarded second place in the recently concluded 2014 World Telecommunications Information and Society Day (WTISD) video competition. Gionieva Fraser, who just completed sixth form studies at St Joseph’s Convent, Port-of-Spain, successfully competed against entrants from around the region to emerge as the second place winner in this annual competition. 


WTISD is observed annually on May 17 and for the past seven years, the Caribbean Association of National Telecommunications Organisations (Canto), which is based in T&T, has marked this occasion with an essay competition open to students from the countries of its membership. 


A release from blink-bmobile said this year the competition was changed to a video format and the topic was Broadband for Sustainable Development. 


Fraser was presented with the prize, sponsored by the blink-bmobile Foundation, of US$500 and a Samsung Note 3. 


Charles Carter, executive vice president Legal, Regulatory & Corporate Secretary Services at blink-bmobile presented the second prize to Fraser and said: “The blink-bmobile Foundation extends congratulations to Gionieva and all the entrants. I enjoyed watching Gionieva’s video on how a society benefits from the use of broadband. At blink-bmobile we continue to break new ground and lead the way in bringing advanced telecommunications technology to T&T. 


“Our recent launch of exciting new broadband services such as the 4G wireless service, the Gigabit Community in Lange Park, Chaguanas, and the continued expansion of free BLINK Broadband wifi hotspots across T&T is all part of our five-year broadband plan to ensure affordable access for all,” Charles said. 


The WTISD competition was open to students between the ages of 12-18 in all Canto member countries. The video entries must have been the students’ own work, in the student’s own words and no longer than three minutes in duration. 


The winner of the competition was William Mahler from the University of Belize, who won a trip for two to attend Canto 2014 in the Bahamas plus hotel accommodation, one tablet and US$1,000. The third place went to Allison Arnaez from St Paulus School, Suriname, who was awarded a smartphone plus US$250 and in fourth place was Andrea Gutierez from St Andrews Anglican School, Belize, who won a smartphone. 


Speaking about the change in format to video, Canto secretary general Regenie Fraser stated: “The objectives of the reformed competition included: encouraging the youth to utilise their ICT tools such as mobile phones, tablets, laptops etc in a positive way; educating the general populace about broadband, its uses and impact and sharing the mission of Canto through popular outreach mechanisms such as social networks.”


Tricia Balthazar, Canto service development manager added: “We were pleased with the winning videos which were well done and of high quality. Gionieva’s video came in a close second behind the winner. However, all the videos received were very good.” 


Balthazar continued: “To appeal to the youth we used social media to promote the competition and incorporated a Facebook people’s choice into the judging criteria to generate interest in the competition and increase participation.”


The experience of making the video was exciting for Fraser. “I learned a lot not only about how broadband contributes to sustainable development but also about videography and video editing. I would like to thank my parents for their support and encouragement and God for giving me the inspiration and strength to overcome the many technological challenges.”


Fraser continued: “It also helped me develop perseverance because I almost lost everything due to problems with my laptop. I had to start over and push to finish in time for the deadline.” 


Fraser thanked Canto and the blink-bmobile Foundation for the opportunity and ended by saying, “I would like to encourage other young people to take advantage of opportunities like this. It helped me a lot.”


Fraser, who is taking a year off before starting a degree in Aerospace Engineering, is no stranger to excellence. She has entered and won several national essay writing competitions and holds academic awards for achievements in CXC Cape and CSEC examinations. 


In addition to Fraser’s interest in science, engineering and mathematics, she also has a deep love for music, painting and the literary arts. She plays the piano and has written articles for the T&T Guardian’s GIE Magazine. 


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