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STEMGuyana has appointed two new female board members Ms. Diana Gittens and Ms. Elsie Harry.
30-year-old Elsie Harry is a multifaceted and multi-award-winning young woman.
She is a Community Development and Planning Professional, Part-time Lecturer, Social Entrepreneur and Spoken Word Artist. She believes in making full use of all of her skills and talents to effect positive change.
Elsie holds a Master of Engineering Degree in Urban and Rural Planning from the Beijing Jiaotong University in China and a Bachelor of Social Science Degree in International Relations from the University of Guyana, where in 2017, she was named Valedictorian.
For the past eight years she has worked simultaneously in the fields of community development and advocacy, holding various positions across St. Kitts & Nevis, China and Guyana. She currently works in the Monitoring and Evaluation Department of the Ministry of Public Works, while her voluntary service includes serving as the Vice Chair (and immediate past Chair), of the Guyana National Steering Committee for the Global Environment Fund Small Grants Programme and mentorship of young adults. In 2021 she founded the social entrepreneurial movement called “This is YOUR Life”, to promote the concept of intentional living and to provide services geared towards creating positive social change. Excellence is her motto and way of life. As a result, she has copped several awards, including, The Commonwealth Youth Worker of the Year Finalist in 2016, the Republic Bank ‘Power to Make a Difference’ Award in 2018. She also received the 25 Influential Women Leaders Award in 2021 and various literary awards. Elsie is also a One Young World Ambassador and a Royal Commonwealth Society Associate Fellow. She is development-minded and wants to see every sector in Guyana thrive and every citizen become productive.
When asked why she joined STEMGuyana, Elsie said, “I have observed STEMGuyana for four years. The first time I took notice of their work was in 2018 while I was away from Guyana. I was scrolling through Facebook to catch up with everything that was going on at home and I stumbled onto an article about STEMGuyana’s participation in the First Global Robotics Competition and how well they were doing. I felt a full range of emotions, awe, excitement, pride! I had no idea that there was an organisation, built by a Guyanese woman, that was preparing our young people to compete at the highest levels in the area of Robotics.”
Further she added, “I began to think about all of the possibilities for Guyana’s future and from that day on, I became a supporter of STEMGuyana. I shared their content on social media and I vowed that when I returned to Guyana I would seek to support their work more tangibly.”
Interestingly, when Elsie returned to Guyana in 2020 she had the opportunity during the COVID-19 pandemic to collaborate with the Director of STEM Guyana Ms. Karen Abrams on the HELPGuyana software application which assisted families in need of supplies.
The app also provided a platform for vendors to advertise and sell their goods.
“The HELPGuyana App made finding masks, fresh fruits and vegetables among other things easy. This was my own baptism in the STEMGuyana culture of excellence and innovating to solve evolving problems. Along with a team of volunteers, from the International Decade for People of African Descent Assembly-Guyana (IDPADA-G), I spearheaded the compiling of the requests for assistance, sourced the items and delivered them to the relevant persons. Thereafter, I assisted with ensuring that children from vulnerable communities enrolled in STEMGuyana’s Summer Robotics Programmes,” Elsie added.
She mentioned “Becoming a Director with STEM-Guyana therefore feels like a full circle moment, since I’ve been committed to the work of the organisation ever since I found out that they existed. STEMGuyana is a noble and pioneering organisation, in the field of robotics and STEM, but also in community building, in its dedication to improving the lives of Guyanese children and ensuring that the positive impacts permeate their entire families. There is no other organisation quite like this in Guyana- this is why I am proud to be a part of this unprecedented movement.”
The other board member is Ms.Diana Gittens. She is the Product Manager for Mobile Money Guyana(MMG), a Fintech company based in Guyana that offers financial services such as bill payments, prepaid mobile recharges, and money transfer. Mobile Money Guyana is a subsidiary of the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GTT).
In addition to her role as Product Manager, Diana serves as coordinator for GTT’s largest cancer awareness and fundraising initiative, Pinktober and manages the grant application process for cancer-related funding for NGOs in Guyana.
Before her current position at GTT, Diana worked as Business Partner for Health and Wellness and served on the Board of Directors of the Dominica Cancer Society for five years, holding the positions of Secretary and President. Her work includes advocating for access to treatment, diagnostic screening, and psychosocial support for individuals affected by cancer. She is a cervical cancer survivor and a member of the NCDA Our Views Our Voices Advocacy Committee and the Healthy Caribbean Coalition PLWNCDs Advisory Committee.
Diana holds a MSc in Public Health Nutrition from the University of Technology in Jamaica and a BSc in Biology from the University of Guyana. She is also a trained teacher, with an Associate Degree in Secondary Education. Diana is passionate about using health promotion and advocacy to combat non-communicable diseases in the Caribbean and beyond.
According to a release from STEMGuyana, 2022 was a year of both opportunities and challenges for the organisation.
However with support of funding and resources from organisations such as Tullow Oil, the IDB, and members of the Guyana Diaspora, they were able to open 40 Learning pods across all regions of Guyana, providing support to over 1000 children in closing the academic gaps created by the pandemic and preparing them for a 21st-century future
Unfortunately, they have not been able to secure a new lab for STEMGuyana as the National Sports Hall, which had served as their home for 7 years, is under reconstruction and they had to relocate.
Another significant disappointment for STEMGuyana was their inability to secure visas for their 8 young engineers and mentors to participate in the First Global robotics championship in Geneva, Switzerland.
“This was the first time in 6 years that Team Guyana Robotics was unable to compete and it was a crushing disappointment for young people, who will play a crucial role in Guyana’s future development. It is important that we invest in our youth,” a release from STEMGuyana said.