František Német,a 20-year-old student in computer science from Chomutov, Czech Republic, is planning to work with artificial intelligence (AI) in the future - thanks to winning the FIKS competition (which tests for computer science and problem-solving aptitude) he has been accepted to the Czech Technical University's Faculty of Information Technology in Prague. News server Romea.cz has interviewed the Romani Scholarship recipient about his hobbies and motivation to study.
Q: Franto, where does your love of IT and programming come from?
A: I was already interested in technology as a child. The inspiration for me was probably my father, people in the neighborhood used to come to him to get their televisions or other electronic devices fixed. When I was little I watched him and imitated what he did. I played with LEDs and tried to connect them. At the age of 15 programming began to amuse me. I started programming simple games and websites.
Q: You'll be graduating from high school soon. Do you already know what the next steps are?
A: In October, if all goes as it should, I will matriculate to the Czech Technical University in Prague in artificial intelligence. That field has an enormous future. The math and programming there may be rather difficult, but I really enjoy it, so I hope I will master it all.
Q: Congratulations, that is a very interesting field. What does it entail and what were the entrance examinations like?
A: One encounters artificial intelligence every single day, for example, in mobile phones, cars, and home appliances. However, companies also use it, or we find it in different kinds of transport. About three months ago I participated in a competition called FIKS (Faculty of Information Technology Correspondence Seminar) that was held by the Czech Technical University's Faculty of Information Technology in Prague. The aim of that contest is to solve several algorithmic and programming tasks and the most successful participants don't have to take entrance examinations, which is what happened in my case.
Q: What would you like to do in the future for work?
A: I would like to work as a programmer, but my biggest dream is to get into the Open AI society, which is the organization established by Elon Musk and Sam Altman, and to get involved with artificial intelligence research for the benefit of humanity.
Q: You don't just dedicate yourself to programming, though. I happen to know that you draw beautifully. How did you start doing that?
A: When I was younger, I tried drawing in my free time. In the beginning I wasn't very good, but over time I perfected it and I learned to draw whatever is in front of me. I started doing portraits because members of my family wanted me to draw them. I'm still gradually learning how to do some things, but it's a brilliant way to relax.
Q: You are a recipient of a scholarship from the ROMEA organization's Romani Scholarship program. How did that scholarship aid you?
A: This is my first year as a ROMEA scholarship recipient. Thanks to the scholarship, I was able to buy things to aid me during my studies. For example, I purchased an electronics set where I test control of LEDs, and I bought textbooks to assist me with perfecting my programming. At the same time, in the autumn I was gifted a laptop from ROMEA that is greatly helping me with my studies. Previously I just had an older desktop computer that could not deal with the difficult operations I needed to do in school. Last summer I attended the BARUVAS meeting, where I got to know very interesting people and made friends with other Romani students. I really enjoyed it and I learned a lot of new things. I hope I will soon get to attend that meeting again.
Q: Have you ever encountered hate being expressed toward Romani students on the Internet? If so, how do you cope with it?
A: I encounter hate daily. It's on Facebook or other social media, but I do my best to ignore it, although you frequently feel sorry about it even if it's not directly aimed against you. I'm trying to study and do things well so I can show those people they're wrong.
On 8 April the ROMEA organization launched a new campaign called "Haters Won't Stop Us!" responding to the stereotypical opinions of Romani students that appear on social media. You can watch the video for that campaign here (with English subtitles).
You, too can support Romani scholarship recipients and show the haters they are wrong!!! You can support the program here.