Up-and-coming tech leaders from across the globe
At our SPR viewing party, we watched the session "Building on Your Vision & Impact" (Student of Vision Award Winner Panel). Let’s break that down a bit.
Each year, one student is awarded an Abie Student of Vision Award, which honors young women who are committed to creating a future where the people who envision and build technology mirror the people for whom they build it. The winners are presented their award at GHC and are receive expenses-paid attendance. The panel included the four winners from the current and previous three years. I was inspired by these young award winners and what they have done in their first 20 or so years on this planet. Here is a brief synopsis of their accomplishments:
School spirit: sharing coding as a career path to under-resourced K-12 students in Canada
The 2016 award winner, Alyssia Jovellanos, began by creating tools and content to teach elementary students how to code. Alyssia came from a high school that did not offer computer science classes and was the only girl in her entire 350-student graduating class who decided to pursue post-secondary education in computer science. This compelled her to find ways to create opportunities for and inspire and support girls and other underrepresented groups to consider careers in software. Alyssia also co-founded and co-directed DeltaHacks, Canada’s second largest student-run Hackathon for Change, which encourages student teams across Canada to create socially impactful hardware and software projects.
Amplifying support and visibility for women in university and graduate-level programs
In 2017, the award was given to Mehul Smriti Raje. When Mehul began college, she noticed the 15% female student population in the computer science department. In an effort to change the ratio, she founded a Women Techmakers (Google backed) chapter in Manipal, India. Determined to help make the tech journey easier for other females, she also produced a YouTube series, The Spectacular Female, which chronicles the accomplishments of women in computer science as well as many other fields. She is currently a graduate student at Harvard working on building an emotionally intelligent system that can comprehend users’ thought processes and offer solutions to challenges in collaborating and communicating with others.
Driving social good across the globe, exploring tech beyond Silicon-Valley-type models
In 2018, the recipient of the award was Chiara Amisola, an undergraduate student of computer science and art at Yale University. Chiara is an activist, front-end developer, designer and founder born and raised in Manila, Philippines. To address the inaccessibility of technology in her own school and community while growing up, Chiara founded Developh, a club in her high school, which has grown from 40 students to a global nonprofit, impacting over 40,000 students across Manila and beyond. Chiara also co-founded Batid, an internationally recognized startup network of sociopolitical applications rooted in digital humanitarianism and designed to move and alert communities. Chiara heavily values creating technology for social good.
Broadening impact and workplace opportunities for people with autism
This year’s winner is Jhillika Kumar, an undergraduate student at Georgia Tech, UX Design intern at Anthem, and founder of AxisAbility, which seeks to improve the lives of the differently abled. Through interviewing autism self-advocates, she learned that one of the biggest struggles for this group is finding jobs that can accommodate the individual’s interests, strengths, capabilities, and sensory and emotional needs. Her company seeks to use technology to enable such individuals, who make up a significant and rapidly increasing portion of the population, to thrive – not only in workplaces, but in classrooms, society and in their lives overall. In her words, “Imagine how many doors we can open if we combine technical capabilities with empathy for those who differ from us.”