A CAPITAL student who taught herself computer programming and hardware building skills laid the early foundations for the role she has today as one of a small number of women in the UK who have been selected for a prestigious bursary from Amazon.
Liana Ahmed is studying computer science at the University of Edinburgh and is one of six female students in the UK chosen to receive the Amazon Women in Innovation Bursary each academic year.
The 18-year-old, who wanted to be an actress when she was younger, discovered a love for computing at an early age at primary school.
Liana wanted to use some of her golden time to play games online, but found she was blocked by the school’s IT systems. It inspired her to look for a solution and that situation has set her up for the career path she’s on today.
Liana said: “I love gadgets and I’ve always been into computers.
“I was a bit of a rebel growing up. In primary school we had golden time, and we could do whatever we wanted during that time, but a lot of games websites that I liked were blocked. So I went home and taught myself ways to get around the blocks.
“From there I started watching and learning from different tech YouTubers.
“When I was 15 years old the family computer broke, which made doing homework very difficult. My parents were not in a rush to replace it so I withdrew £500 from my savings account and built my own computer.
“From there, I realised that technology is something that I love and wanted to pursue, regardless of the obstacles that stood in my way. I started coding, did computer science in school and started to learn different things and that inspired me to do computer science at university.”
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.
As well as the bursary helping with Liana’s living costs over the four years of her degree, Amazon will also provide mentoring on business skills like CV-building and interview techniques, as well as a potential work placement at Amazon’s local Development Centre in Edinburgh.
Liana added: “The bursary has helped me tremendously. I’ve been supporting myself financially and having to work long hours, so when I first started studying, I was really struggling. This was really getting in the way of my studies and stopped me from pursing things that I was passionate about.
“The bursary enables me to have a better focus on my studies, which is what you need when you’re at university. The mentorship through Amazon is amazing, it has given me the guidance that I lacked before.”