Breaking the Mold – March

March 1, 2016

NMCC Computer and Network Technology (CNT) student Winona Christnot-Peters has always been intrigued by computers and how they work. An avid video gamer, Winona noticed that her computer wasn’t working satisfactorily while playing an online game. “My frustration and not having the money to pay someone to fix it led to my interest in the field.” Because of this, Winona started learning about computers and taught herself how to perform upgrades and design systems. For the past ten years, Winona has repaired computers for family and friends and has even built her own computer. She also enjoys web design and has managed the website for the Central Aroostook Humane Society. She is an artist and likes graphic design and drawing.

Also known as a “jack of all trades”, Winona has acquired basic knowledge and skills in the plumbing, carpentry, and electrical trades and will do her own repairs at home to save money. Winona states that she learned to be self-sufficient from her grandmother. “She taught me if something needs to be fixed, then fix it or learn how to. This is where my passion for learning came from.”

Winona chose NMCC for several reasons. Being from Presque Isle, Winona didn’t want to move away to attend college. The low tuition rates were also appealing to Winona, in addition to the college having the program that she wanted. “NMCC has one of the best computer repair programs in the state.”

Winona has had a very positive experience in her program, reporting that she hasn’t experienced any discrimination because she is a female. In fact, Winona reports that everyone gets along really well. “I am learning from my peers. We all have a different knowledge base and help each other out.” Winona reports that she feels comfortable in class. “It’s a very supportive environment.”

Winona currently has a work study job on campus working in the CNT lab, ensuring that it is kept organized and clean. Her goal is to eventually become her instructor’s lab assistant.

When discussing what Winona enjoys most about CNT, she states that she likes how much the field changes on a regular basis, which requires continual learning, something that Winona really enjoys. “You need to continue taking classes and keep learning to stay current.”

According to Winona, gender stereotypes in our society continue to be a challenge for women working in a non-traditional career. “Gender doesn’t change who you are or how you behave, but it can change how people perceive you. People assume because you are a woman that you don’t know what you are talking about.” In regards to strengths that women can contribute to the field, Winona states that women typically are more comfortable talking to other women and may be more likely to approach a female with a computer problem than a male.

Winona offers advice for females considering a career in the CNT field. “If it’s something that you are interested in, go for it. If you start taking a class and discover it doesn’t interest you as much as you thought, you can always go for something else. There are many programs available at NMCC.” Winona encourages others to pursue their interests and to not let fear or doubt prevent them from following their dreams. “What discrimination you may encounter is worth it for the fulfillment of being able to do a job you enjoy and do it well.”

When Winona graduates in May of 2017, she would like to continue her education and earn a bachelor’s degree in computer sciences, with a focus in computer programming. She plans on applying to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), University of California at Berkeley, and the University of Pennsylvania. She would also like to obtain part-time employment in the field and is considering working in technical support while she finishes school.

Always assisting her peers in class when they need help, Winona also has an interest in teaching. She has, in the past, taught a computer class for the elderly with her aunt. “It was really fun and I enjoyed it.” Winona also has an interest in moving to Japan to teach English.

Winona suggests how students can be successful at NMCC, including utilizing a variety of services on campus for assistance. “Don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are so many resources available, you just have to ask for them.” She also notes the importance of communicating with instructors. “If you need to miss a class because you are sick, let them know. Most instructors are very understanding.”

Computer and Network Technology is a field that Winona is passionate about. “This is what I want to do for a career. I have an aptitude for it and it is also something I enjoy doing. I am here to learn to fix people’s computers and do it effectively. I take pride in my work and want to do well.”