A love of numbers has added up to a University of Edinburgh student securing a prestigious bursary from online retail giant Amazon.
Caitlin McDougall is laying the foundations for her dream job of combining technology and humanitarian work with the help of Amazon’s Women in Innovation Bursary.
The 18-year-old, who is studying Computer Science, is one of up to 24 women a year in the UK to receive the bursary from Amazon.
She said: “Throughout school, maths was always my favourite subject. Even before I started school, I would sit and complete maths workbooks. I never warmed to English because there was too much ambiguity. I like taking a problem, following logical steps and coming to a solid conclusion.”
Although a self-confessed maths lover, Caitlin admits a career in STEM wasn’t always for her, adding: “From a young age I knew I wanted to help people and make a difference and that’s why I initially wanted to be a doctor. It wasn’t until my cousin and I started to talk about his career in technology that I realised I could help people and still pursue my love of maths.
“I had never really considered computer science, but when my cousin talked about his job, he spoke so passionately about it. At that stage I was a typical teenager and wasn’t really interested in anything. However, I do remember that moment being the first time something really engaged me.
“He told me it would be the perfect way of applying my love of maths and my desire to do something that made a difference. I decided to study computer science in my last year at school and haven’t looked back.”
The Amazon Women in Innovation Bursary offers funding of between £3,500 and £7,500 per year to a female student from a low-income household attending one of the three universities which neighbour its three UK Development Centres, including the University of Edinburgh, Kings College London and Churchill College in the University of Cambridge.
Caitlin said: “I have been working from the age of thirteen and continued with my part-time job when I started university, but it quickly became difficult to manage alongside my studies. The Amazon Women in Innovation Bursary means I can focus all my efforts on my studies and gives me the opportunity to explore this beautiful city and make new friends and I am very thankful.”
Professor Jane Hillston, Head of the School of Informatics at the University of Edinburgh, added: “Programmes like the Amazon Women in Innovation Bursary play a vital role in increasing and encouraging diversity in the tech sector, which is important for the development of the industry. On behalf of the faculty at The University of Edinburgh, I would like to wish Caitlin every success in her studies and congratulate her on being chosen for such a coveted bursary.”