Guest Blog – Vanessa Bellotti – Grace Hopper and the Value of Conferences

The following blog was written by Vanessa Bellotti, a Junior CS student after attending the Grace Hopper Conference.  It is being published now to remind students that if you get a chance to go to a conference or other networking event – go!

Vanessa Bellotti – Class of 2025 wrote:

About 2 weeks ago, I stepped into my first Grace Hopper Celebration in Orlando, Florida, hopeful
and excited for the three days that lay ahead of me.
Although I had attended the celebration virtually in 2022 and had the opportunity to attend many
exciting webinars and talks, including one that exposed me to an entire field of artificial intelligence
research that has intrigued me ever since, I had no idea what to expect. I had been told the career
fair was the size of two football fields and that there would be booths the size of small apartments. A
tall order, and an exciting challenge I was looking forward to meeting head on!
The energy at GHC was unmatched, with the expo hall and the many lecture halls abuzz with a
desire to learn and grow. I felt that the excitement to connect with women across all kinds of
technical industries was palpable almost everywhere I went. Attending GHC in person was an
amazing experience that provided the chance to learn from talented female engineers from a wide
range of industries and backgrounds and to explore the incredible opportunities available in the
tech industry!
My experience at GHC consisted of so many wonderful interactions it would be impossible to name
them all! From amazing talks and seminars such as Farm-To-Plate-AI, which showcased how
Mathworks empowers and leverages computer vision, to discussing my efforts leading Tufts
CubeSAT with amazing engineers at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the conference provided a
wonderful atmosphere.
Beyond the convention halls, I connected with researchers and engineers at Google DeepMind about
engineering versus research in AI/ML pathways among other topics. I also was able to connect with
my peers from Tufts on a deeper level as we bonded about our experiences and classes, and took
the time to relish the opportunity that had brought us all together to Orlando. This is only a small
subset of all the great things that happened at GHC!
As I reflect on my experience at GHC this year, I’m taking away a wealth of lessons. I encountered
new and unexpected challenges, like enduring lines that stretched for over an hour in the expo hall.
However, these challenges were opportunities to grow. I also embraced the chance to connect with
people I never would have dreamed of meeting and expanded my horizons in a field where
possibilities seem to multiply every day.
The impact of attending a conference like GHC cannot be overstated. The wealth of resources and
connections available can be a game-changer for professional development. So, I encourage you to
keep an eye out for such opportunities, as they have the potential to unlock doors and ignite your
passion for your chosen field. When you are presented with opportunities to attend conferences or
professional events, seize them.

By Vanessa Bellotti
Vanessa Bellotti Junior