Faculty Spotlight: IST professor making a path for students in STEM
Thursday, September 5, 2019
Written by: Emily Hollingshead
Information Systems Technology (IST) Professor Dr. Janell Robinson knows that a strong connection and a well-built network is important not only for computers, but people too. So, after teaching online and feeling a disconnect from her students, she knew she had to make a change, and for the past three years she has flourished at Seminole State College of Florida.
“Here at Seminole State College, the class sizes are small, and I get to have one-on-one communication with my students,” Robinson said. “Now I am proud to work for an educational institution where it feels like we are one big family.”
Robinson is determined to ensure it is an inclusive family and is actively involved in numerous efforts at the College to include more women and people of color into STEM areas. Last fall, she founded Seminole State’s Women in Technology club. For female IST students, Robinson says the club “has provided a sense of community,” and offers the students a place to network, learn and grow. The club members have already attended B-Sides Orlando Cybersecurity Conference and completed a Seminole State Volunteer service event.
Additionally, Robinson is a major player in Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon’s CodeOrlando summer camp. She designed the curriculum for the 30 underprivileged high school students who went through the program during the summer of 2019. Seminole State President Dr. Georgia Lorenz is familiar with Robinson’s efforts to get more women and people of color involved in technology at the College; she was the one who referred Robinson to the Gordon family for CodeOrlando. The camp offers opportunities the students otherwise wouldn’t have and takes their learning beyond the classroom into local businesses and universities. “I am certain that each of these students will continue working toward an education and career in a STEM-related field,” Robinson said.
According to Robinson, giving these students mentors they can relate to is one of the best ways to increase their chance at success. Building a strong network of supportive figures is crucial in school and beyond, and she stresses that “technology is not simply sitting behind a computer in a dark, cold room, writing programs all day.” In fact, Robinson makes it a point to encourage interaction among her students through group study and projects. Jobs in the IST field are often more social and connected than people suspect, so she emphasizes these aspects in the classroom to better prepare students for a profession where they will need to work closely with others on a regular basis.
For those high school and non-traditional students looking to get more involved in the information systems technology field, Robinson advises to set a strict schedule for balancing work, school and family. She also encourages students to get involved on campus and attend IST-related events and conferences to learn more about this field that has changed every industry from healthcare to marketing.
“I obtained my Ph.D. so that I could become a scholar and learn better management and research skills that will allow me to make a difference in people’s lives,” Robinson said. “This is not only a career for me; it is my passion.”
If you are interested in information systems technology, Seminole State offers an Associate in Science degree with specializations in networking and A.S. to B.S.I.S.T., which allows students who earn the A.S. degree to continue into the Bachelor of Science degree in Information Systems Technology (B.S.I.S.T.). The B.S.I.S.T. offers specializations in cybersecurity and programming. The A.S. and B.S.I.S.T. degrees can be completed in person or online.
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