By: Nate Cox
Sophomore Kirstyn Natavio exemplifies the abilities of women in the computer science field. After trying several other fields, Natavio realized her love for technology. Like other City College students, she is taking advantage of the endless possibilities in coding, artificial intelligence, and e-commerce offered at CCNY.
For most of her life, she lived outside of the United States. Born in Honduras and raised in Mexico, Kirstyn migrated to The United States of America during her first year of high school. Her parents are of Filipino decent, and have always expected her to become a doctor or an engineer. Since she couldn’t stand blood and needles, Natavio decided on an engineering track before entering City College.
Still in high school, one of Natavio’s teachers introduced her to “Girls Who Code”. This organization works with female youth to close the gender gap in the technology industry. The experience enabled her to learn forms of computer programming. As she transitioned into college, she has participated in many Hackathons, a competition where teams compete to create codes. During one this past summer, she and her team spent 24 hours building a program that translates sign language to English. The results didn’t meet their expectations. Yet, the team is continuing their research in artificial intelligence (AI).
“The way that the program works is that it takes pictures [of the signs], and displays the letters. But there are certain signs that mean something, that aren’t just letters; one sign can mean a whole word, and right now the only thing it recognizes is letters,” explains Natavio. She continues, “We want it to recognize complete words, and maybe make it better by using video instead of pictures.”
Natavio also participates in CUNY Tech Prep, a boot-camp for computer science majors. This course provides professional training outside of the regular studies of a student. She continues to learn full stack web development through the program.
She also interns at Centiment, a startup that helps companies target their audience. To explain the company, Kirstyn uses e-shopping as an example. Websites use a person’s previous searches to generate advertisements. For better success, Centiment engages with a shopper’s emotions. “What many companies do is just look at people as data,” she says. “What Centiment does is create personas so we can better understand how people feel about something so we can give better feedback.”
As she continues her studies, Kirstyn becomes more excited about the future of AI. She even considers more recent advancements, such as computers that discover historical mysteries. Like the growing number of women in technology, Natavio plans to contribute to major innovations. She dreams of changing the way the world works.