Queen’s University Belfast: Jenni has eye on the prize as she graduates with MSc in Software Development

Jenni Walsh from Bangor is celebrating as she graduates today (Friday 10 December) with a Distinction in MSc Software Development, after working for 17 years as an optometrist.

For her dissertation project, Jenni worked with Dr David Cutting and Professor Noemi Lois at Queen’s to develop an app which provides medics with a calculation highlighting the number and severity of any complications that have arisen after Retinal Detachment surgery.

The innovative tool is expected to be used by up to 3,000 surgeons worldwide enabling better care for patients after surgery.

Jenni says that it had always been a dream to combine her expertise as an optometrist with new skills in software development. She comments: “I had been thinking about a career change for quite some time. When the pandemic hit I had some time off and a bit of time to reflect and I decided this is something I could actually do.

“The fact that the course is a conversion course and only one year really appealed to me. I have always had a keen interest in technology but no experience of coding previously.”

She adds: “Coming from a science degree background helped in that I’m a fairly logical thinker, which is important for software development. My previous career as an optometrist was very useful when it came to my end of year dissertation. It gave me an understanding of what aspects and features may be important to the user when I was building the app for vitreoretinal surgeons.

“This was one of my favourite memories – getting to build an app from start to finish and knowing that it is being used globally.”

Jenni is currently on the hunt for her first IT role and hopes to find a job in web development or in health tech.

She has some advice for anyone who is considering a move back to education but isn’t sure. She says: “Do it! Life is too short to stay in a job you aren’t happy with. It is never too late to change your future and you are capable of more than you realise.”

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