How Shavone Charles Created Her Dream Job In Tech

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Shavone Charles holds many titles. From being a musician and artist to her role as Head of Global Music and Youth Culture Communications at Instagram and recent founder of a passion project, Magic in Her Melanin, Charles is undoubtedly known to her peers and the surrounding tech and entertainment industries as being a renaissance woman and connoisseur of culture.

The term, “Do It For The Culture”, according to the Urban Dictionary, is a statement requesting that someone carry out a specific action for benefit of their shared culture. Charles is doing just that with not only her work in Silicon Valley but for black creatives globally. With her deep Trinidadian roots, Charles is passionate about maintaining her self-identity while creating an environment of inclusivity for women of color in tech.

Before she was trailblazing a new path for future generations, millennials and black women in tech, or creating her own job title at multi-billion dollar companies like Twitter and Instagram, she was a San Diego native and first-generation college graduate from UC Merced, just trying to figure it out. Upon graduating in 2012, Charles snagged several high-profile entertainment and communications based internships at Google, BET Networks, Capitol Hill and The Department of Justice. Her big break happened when she was the presented with the opportunity to create her own role and title at Twitter.

At Twitter, Shavone established her niche career focus on culture-focused communications and social marketing, business partnerships and data analysis with a close lens on music, online communities and youth culture. Upon joining the Twitter team, Shavone created her own role, as the first person to join her team and head up the company’s global music and culture communications, with a focus on data, often working on efforts tied music partnerships and high-priority product launches and acquisitions (including Vine and Periscope). During her time at Twitter, Shavone also remotely oversaw all of the company’s communications efforts for Brazil and Canada out of San Francisco and employed a number of successful global culture-driven communications programs tied to major entertainment and consumer moments in market (including Rock In Rio, Brazil’s Fashion Week, Juno Awards and more). She led content management and curation for the official @TwitterMusic account and helped grow it by over 5 million followers, as result of social campaigns with talent and highlighting the best uses of Twitter and Vine in music.

In addition to launching PR and social campaigns, Charles had the unique opportunity to create the first-ever employee resource group for African-American employees, aptly named Twitter BlackBirds. Her role at Twitter, catapulted her into a new realm of visibility and influence, leading her to head up communications and culture at Instagram. Charles has always been intrigued by the notion of connecting diverse groups of people through social media and cultivating an accepting community for people to have the choice to share commonalities.

Technology has allowed the culture to be seen on a global scale, with creatives now at the forefront of the movement and art form. It’s not a “niche” community anymore and people are using the internet to build a community around their interests,” which she said at Forbes I.D.E.A Summit.

Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.

Ada Lovelace: The First Computer Programmer

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A century before the dawn of the computer age, Ada Lovelace imagined the modern-day, general-purpose computer. It could be programmed to follow instructions, she wrote in 1843.It could not just calculate but also create, as it “weaves algebraic patterns just as the Jacquard loom weaves flowers and leaves.”

The computer she was writing about, the British inventor Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine, was never built. But her writings about computing have earned Lovelace — who died of uterine cancer in 1852 at 36 — recognition as the first computer programmer.

The program she wrote for the Analytical Engine was to calculate the seventh Bernoulli number. (Bernoulli numbers, named after the Swiss mathematician Jacob Bernoulli, are used in many different areas of mathematics.) But her deeper influence was to see the potential of computing. The machines could go beyond calculating numbers, she said, to understand symbols and be used to create music or art.

“This insight would become the core concept of the digital age,” Walter Isaacson wrote in his book “The Innovators.” “Any piece of content, data or information — music, text, pictures, numbers, symbols, sounds, video — could be expressed in digital form and manipulated by machines.”

She also explored the ramifications of what a computer could do, writing about the responsibility placed on the person programming the machine, and raising and then dismissing the notion that computers could someday think and create on their own — what we now call artificial intelligence.

“The Analytical Engine has no pretensions whatever to originate any thing,” she wrote. “It can do whatever we know how to order it to perform.”

Lovelace, a British socialite who was the daughter of Lord Byron, the Romantic poet, had a gift for combining art and science, one of her biographers, Betty Alexandra Toole, has written. She thought of math and logic as creative and imaginative, and called it “poetical science.”

Math “constitutes the language through which alone we can adequately express the great facts of the natural world,” Lovelace wrote.

Her work, which was rediscovered in the mid-20th century, inspired the Defense Department to name a programming language after her and each October Ada Lovelace Day signifies a celebration of women in technology.

Lovelace lived when women were not considered to be prominent scientific thinkers, and her skills were often described as masculine.

“With an understanding thoroughly masculine in solidity, grasp and firmness, Lady Lovelace had all the delicacies of the most refined female character,” said an obituary in The London Examiner.

Babbage, who called her the “enchantress of numbers,” once wrote that she “has thrown her magical spell around the most abstract of Sciences and has grasped it with a force which few masculine intellects (in our own country at least) could have exerted over it.”

Augusta Ada Byron was born on Dec. 10, 1815, in London, to Lord Byron and Annabella Milbanke. Her parents separated when she was an infant, and her father died when she was 8. Her mother — whom Lord Byron called the “princess of parallelograms” and, after their falling out, a “mathematical Medea” — was a social reformer from a wealthy family who had a deep interest in mathematics.

Lovelace showed a passion for math and mechanics from a young age, encouraged by her mother. Because of her class, she had access to private tutors and to intellectuals in British scientific and literary society. She was insatiably curious and surrounded herself with big thinkers of the day, including Mary Somerville, a scientist and writer.

Continue onto the New York Times to read the complete article.

6 Ways Employers Recruit With Artificial Intelligence

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Companies hope chatbots and video interviews will improve the recruiting process for everyone.

Most job seekers and human resources managers would agree that the hiring process is flawed.

It’s as if the two groups speak different languages. For example, there’s a disconnect in how HR and job seekers prefer to communicate, and there’s also a gap between how employers present job requirements and the skills job seekers include on their resumes. Applicant tracking systems seem to arbitrarily weed out candidates or, worse, lose them in a black hole. Employers say they can’t find candidates with the right skills and are eager to fill open jobs.

There isn’t an easy fix for recruiting process problems. But employers want to talk to qualified candidates and workers want to talk to recruiters. This human-to-human connection is still the most important aspect of hiring. As strange as it sounds, technology may actually help more of these conversations happen. Here’s how:

Improved Job Postings

In order to attract the best candidates, HR needs to write a compelling yet accurate job description. The technology exists to assess and analyze job postings based on how well they do. Manually analyzing this data consumes a lot of time, but algorithms can quickly analyze successful job postings and descriptions and make suggestions to improve the wording to address the unique needs of specific candidates. This saves hours and improves the applicant pool. It also better informs potential candidates.

Chatbots

Companies already use artificial intelligence to provide customers with answers at any time. Now HR can use it to provide more information to job seekers when they need it. Chatbots allow applicants to ask questions and get quick automated answers while perusing the company’s website. Do you want to know what the company’s culture is like? Just ask.

Chatbots are also used to pre-screen interested candidates by asking qualifying questions. Be aware that information given to and provided by chatbots is reviewed by HR.

Video Interviews

Once you apply to a job, you may receive a link to a video interview platform before you talk with a recruiter. Recorded video interviews save recruiters time by replacing screening calls. They also provide candidates with an opportunity to prepare answers to questions.

Algorithms review recorded video interviews to evaluate the answers by analyzing facial expressions, word choice, speech rate and vocal tones. If all goes well, candidates move forward for in-person interviews.

Proponents of this kind of evaluation claim it removes human bias while providing recruiters with better-quality candidates in less time. For job seekers, a video interview provides the opportunity to thoughtfully construct your answers and explain your qualifications. During a phone interview, you may not have as much time to plan your responses as thoroughly.

The best advice for a video interview is to make sure you are prepared. Research the company, know about the job and make sure you record in a neutral, professional setting.

Continue onto U.S. News & World Report to read the complete article.

MTV to Chronicle Disability Activist’s Quest to Travel Into Space

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Eddie Ndopu

Eddie Ndopu wants to become the first physically disabled person to travel to space. MTV will follow a South African activist on his quest to become the first physically disabled person to travel to space.

Eddie Ndopu, 27, was born with spinal muscular atrophy and given a life span of five years. He has obviously exceeded that, going on to earn a master’s degree in public policy from Oxford and has spent more than a decade advocating for the rights of disabled young people.

Now Ndopu is hoping to travel to space and deliver a message from above Earth to the U.N. General Assembly, sending “a powerful message on behalf of young people everywhere who have ever felt excluded by society.” MTV cameras will follow him as he enlists an aerospace company to facilitate the mission and chronicle his thoughts and emotions as the launch approaches. The cabler will also document his voyage and message to the United Nations.

The project was announced ahead of the International Day of Persons With Disabilities on Dec. 3.

Continue on to The Hollywood Reporter to read the complete article.

How This Former MIT Professor And Google Engineer Used Holograms To Build A $28 Million Startup

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A red laser pointer shining through a raw chicken carcass may not seem like groundbreaking science, but for veteran technologist Mary Lou Jepsen, it’s worth $28 million in funding for her latest startup, Openwater.

Jepsen performed the chicken act as part of her August TED Talk to illustrate how her imaging-tech company is building cost-conscious body-scanning technology by using the same components one might find at a science fair. The laser pointer’s light made both skin and bone of the plucked fowl glow, revealing a tumor just under its flesh. This simple demonstration shows the science behind what Openwater is trying to achieve; wearable diagnostics made from consumer electronic parts that offer higher resolution than multimillion-dollar MRI machines but cost as much as a smartphone.

Just as the chicken’s tumor blocked the laser pointer light, which shone through the rest of the chicken’s flesh, Openwater’s wearables will capture images by recording light particles and the negative spaces where they fail to scatter. X-rays use radiation and MRI machines use a magnetic field and radio waves because they can go through the human body and produce an image. But so does “red light, infrared light,” Jepsen tells Forbes. “Guess which one is cheaper by a lot?”

It’s a method similar to how holograms are made, and it uses readily available camera and display chips you can find in a smartphone. It’s also an idea that took Jepsen’s skill set to consider, and perhaps her impressive CV to convince investors to buy in. The serial founder led the display divisions at Intel and the semi-secret research group Google X and helped develop Oculus after Facebook purchased the virtual reality headset company in 2014. But Openwater began with Princess Leia’s projected message to Obi Wan Kenobi, when Jepsen aimed her life at building holograms like the one she first saw in Star Wars.

Hooked by the lasers and optical illusions involved, Jepsen made her first hologram as an engineering undergrad at Brown. Later, she’d use her growing skill set to develop computer display screens and VR glasses at the top tech companies in the world.

At that time, however, holograms did not pay the bills. Because holography was viewed as a frivolous “technology looking for an application,” no one would fund it, Jepsen says. “I just had to figure out a way to support my habit. I basically lived all through my 20s on $12,000 a year just because I thought I’d die if I couldn’t make holograms,” Jepsen said.

Her pursuit of holograms bought her to Melbourne, Australia, where she worked as a professor of computer science at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology and helped put holograms on the country’s paper money. In Cologne, Germany, she built some of the world’s largest holographic displays, including one of historic buildings projected on an entire city block. Still, she didn’t feel her work was taken seriously, so Jepsen figured she’d need a Ph.D.

Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.

Learning, Empathy And Diversity Have Put Microsoft On A Path Of Unstoppable Growth

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The news that Microsoft is “worth as much as Apple” is further proof that its efforts to re-invent itself are paying off. For those who view the resurgence of the Redmond giant as being mostly driven by a winning strategy, a word of caution is in order. Could the Microsoft we know today successfully pursue the same objectives (e.g., cloud computing, opening up to other platforms, zeroing in on forward-thinking acquisitions such as the latest partnership with MasterCard, etc.) as the accomplished, perfectionistic and somewhat aged tech colossus it used to be? Probably not.

Notwithstanding the importance of the strategic reboot Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO, has implemented, it is Nadella’s focus on the organization’s culture that has paved the way to such robust results. On the one hand, the stock market is responding to Microsoft’s short-term performance, but, on the other, as research suggests, it is acknowledging Microsoft’s ability to evolve and put itself on a path that may ensure growth for years to come.

Deeper Growth Leads To Real Business Growth

If we analyze the impact culture change is having on the company’s own performance, two aspects of Microsoft’s reboot tell the story. First, the fact that Microsoft has focused on capacities that are highly instrumental to its new strategy shows it is not simply building a nice culture, but one geared towards business growth. By placing emphasis on learning and empathy as critical assets, for example, Microsoft has already demonstrated a deeper understanding of what developing a large ecosystem of partnerships truly entails.

Second, the fact that these new culture assets provide Microsoft with a source of ‘renewable energy’ underscores a level of adaptability and strategic alertness that may serve the organization’s growth over the long-term. If Microsoft is learning to learn, in other words, the value of this mindset has no expiration date.

But why are these new capacities so uniquely important?

When at his first public appearance as CEO, Satya Nadella used T.S. Eliot’s famous words—“You should never cease from exploration, and at the end of all exploration, you arrive where you started and know the place for the very first time”—to describe his vision, he made it clear that the Redmond giant needs to overcome itself to find itself. For all it had accomplished, Microsoft possibly hadn’t begun to know even half of its own potential. This is why venturing into new territories, leaving the comfort zone and embracing opportunities beyond what looked immediately familiar was the only way to succeed.

Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.

The Growing Importance of Cybersecurity to Business

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cybersecurity

In today’s online age, the number of threats to businesses and their customers increases every day. The largest obstacle in cybersecurity is the perpetual security risk that quickly evolves over short periods of time, leaving businesses with a widening gap in manpower and the resources needed to protect their data.

Almost daily, more information about cyberattacks makes its way into the headlines—for example, in 2017, hackers struck Disney claiming to have the newest Pirates of the Caribbean movie, and threatening its release unless a ransom was paid.

Big Business is not the Only Target

The lion’s share of news coverage often comes from larger companies. In 2013, hackers stole data from up to 40 million credit and debit cards owned by shoppers of Target stores. In September 2014, Home Depot admitted that 56 million payment cards could be at risk due to a cyberattack. These security breaches were constant in the news cycle, but what you’ll rarely see in the news is the fact that 43 percent of cyberattacks target small business, and 60 percent of small companies go out of business within six months of a cyberattack!

CyberAttacks on Business Lead to Attacks on Customers

From May 2015 to May 2016, 50 percent of small business respondents said that they had data breaches that targeted customer and employee information. As a consumer, consider the amount of data that you share with the companies you do business with. If you make an online purchase, the business is likely to have a record of your email address, your home address, your phone number, and potentially even have your payment information stored.

If hackers are able to access a marketing database, they may only need your email to use phishing techniques to trick you into providing more sensitive information. You may think you’re communicating with a reputable business, but in reality you’re communicating with hackers who are stealing your information. Businesses and consumers should take care to learn more about protecting themselves from cyber threats, and err on the side of caution whenever interacting with a suspicious email or communication.

Growing Threats and a Shortage of Cybersecurity Professionals

Cybercrime damages are expected to cost the world $6 trillion by 2021, while businesses and government institutions are scrambling to protect themselves. By 2019, experts foresee a cybersecurity skills shortage of nearly 1.5 million open jobs. Recognizing the need for skilled professionals in the field, Northcentral University launched the Master of Science in Technology and Innovation Management program, specialized in Cybersecurity. With the cybersecurity field growing, there will be a need for individuals trained to manage threats, along with essential leadership skills needed to manage teams of talented cybersecurity specialists. Learn more about the Cybersecurity degree programs at NCU.

Source: ncu.edu

Taking Engineering to a New Level—Q&A with NASA engineer Adriana Ocampo

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Adriana Ocampo, PhD, is the Science Program Manager at NASA headquarters. Take a look at NASA’s Q&A with the accomplished engineer.

Where are you from?

I was born in Barranquilla, Colombia, and I was raised in Argentina. My family and I moved to the United States when I was a teenager. I now live in Washington, DC.

Describe the first time you made a personal connection with outer space.

When I was a little girl, I would go on the roof of my house and look at the stars and wonder how far they were away from me. I would also make “spacecraft” with the pots and pans from my mother’s kitchen. I would dress my doll up as an astronaut, and my dog Taurus was my co-pilot.

How did you end up working in the space program?

As soon as I landed in the USA I asked: “Where is NASA?” After my junior year in high school, and thanks to the Space Exploration Post 509—sponsored by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)—I was able to first volunteer at JPL and then work there as an employee during the summer. As I started college I continued to work at JPL. I majored in geology at the California State University at Los Angeles, earning a B.S. there in 1983. I then got my Master of Science in planetary geology from California State University, Northridge. I received both my degrees while working full time at JPL as a research scientist. I’m currently finishing my PhD at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands.

Who inspired you?

My parents were my inspiration. They always encouraged me to reach for the stars and instilled in me the knowledge that education was the gateway to making my dreams come true. Space exploration was my passion from a very young age, and I knew I wanted to be part of it. I would dream and design space colonies while sitting atop the roof of my family’s home in Argentina.

What is a Science Program Manager?

Some of my duties include being the New Frontiers lead program executive. New Frontiers includes the Juno mission to Jupiter, the New Horizons mission to Pluto and the asteroid sample return mission OSIRIS-REx. I am also the lead Venus scientist responsible for NASA’s collaboration with ESA’s Venus Express mission, JAXA’s Venus Climate Orbit and the Venus Exploration Analysis Group (VEXAG), which develops strategic plans and assessments for the exploration of this planet.

Tell us about a favorite moment so far in your career.

A favorite moment would have to be my research that led to the discovery of the Chicxulub impact crater. The impact that formed this crater caused the extinction of more than 50 percent of the Earth’s species, including the dinosaurs. I wrote my master’s and PhD theses on this crater, and I have led six research expeditions to study this amazing event that changed the evolution of life on our planet.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to take the same career path as you?

“Dream and never give up.” When thinking about the great adventure that you have ahead, dream and never give up, be persistent and always be true to your heart. Live life with gusto. I would like to share my mnemonic (STARS) with you from the Girl Scouts book “Recipes for Success:”

STARS

Smile: Life is a great adventure
Transcend to triumph over the negative
Aspire to be the best
Resolve to be true to your heart
Success comes to those who never give up on their dreams

Source: NASA

Tuesday’s Google Doodle Honors Pediatrician Fe del Mundo

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Tuesday’s Google Doodle celebrates the 107th birthday of renowned pediatrician Fe del Mundo.

In Manila at the turn of the last century, women had relatively few opportunities, but lawyer Bernardo del Mundo was supportive when one of his young daughters declared, at an early age, that she wanted to become a doctor someday and care for the poorer population of Manila. When the ambitious young girl died of appendicitis at age 11, her younger sister Fe took up the torch.

Fe del Mundo graduated from the University of the Philippines Manila at the head of her class in 1933 and scored so highly on her medical board exam that Filipino President Manuel Quezon offered a full scholarship to any medical school in the United States to study any specialty she wanted. She chose Harvard and pediatrics, and having completed her enrollment, she arrived in 1936 to settle into her dorm room and begin studying.

But she found herself walking into a men’s dorm. Del Mundo hadn’t realized that in 1936, Harvard Medical School didn’t admit women. Harvard hadn’t realized that del Mundo was, in fact, a woman. In light of del Mundo’s impressive record — and, no doubt, her determined presence — the head of the pediatrics department made an exception and allowed her enrollment to stand. Harvard wouldn’t officially open up its medical program to female students until 1945.

By then, del Mundo was back in the Phillipines, having arrived in 1941 just ahead of the invading Japanese Army. As a Red Cross volunteer, she volunteered at an internment camp for the first two years of the war, then accepted a position as director of a city-run children’s hospital in 1943. In early 1945, the fighting had come to a head in Manila, where American and Filipino troops were fighting to push Japanese occupiers out of the capital city. Over 100,000 civilians died in the battle, and del Mundo’s pediatric hospital found itself pressed into more general service. After the war, much of Manila lay in ruins, but the North General Hospital (eventually renamed the Jose R. Reyes Memorial Medical Center) endured, and del Mundo served as its director until 1948.

Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.

Increasing Availability of Preventive Health Around the World

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Dr. Kevin Ashi

By Tony Allen

As an American child growing up in a rural Mexican town, Kevin Ashi’s experience with health care was simple: You only go to the doctor when you’re really sick.

So when he left his small community in central Mexico and moved with his parents to Las Vegas eight years ago, the aspiring physician was surprised to see how common it was for people to go to the doctor for yearly checkups and preventative care. He’d always been interested in medicine, but it was eye-opening for him to see the positive impact preventive care has on quality of life for so many Americans.

Inspired with a new perspective on medicine, Ashi decided then and there to forge a career path dedicated to helping underserved people and increasing the availability of preventive health around the world.

“I normalized disease growing up without ever considering prevention as a strategy to combat it,” said Ashi, a senior biology major and member of UNLV’s Honors College. “When I moved back to the U.S., I gained a whole new perspective on medicine. There’s a general belief in Mexico that you go to a doctor only when you’re very sick. Access to preventative care is so critically needed, but sadly missing, in so many places around the world.”

Ashi and his family saw opportunity in Las Vegas and moved to the valley in 2010. After graduating with honors from Las Vegas’ Palo Verde High School in 2014, Ashi brought his insatiable drive to make a difference to UNLV.

Informed by his experiences growing up in Mexico and after witnessing subpar healthcare while visiting family in Syria, Ashi is determined to complete his bachelor’s degree this fall and then go on to earn both an M.D. and master’s in public health to solve public health challenges in developing countries.

To do that, he knows he needs to make the most of every opportunity on campus. He joined the Honors College as a biology/pre-med major and has a minor in French – which included a semester studying abroad. He also participates in undergraduate research, tutors students in the Academic Success Center, has lobbied for STEM research funding in Washington, D.C., and two years ago he co-founded the university’s Latino Pre-Medical Student Association.

“It’s all about perspective,” Ashi says of his daunting workload. “If you were born and raised here, you may not realize that many opportunities exist. It’s important to make the most of them.”

Creating Opportunity
As a sophomore in 2016, Ashi and four of his peers – all aspiring physicians – noticed that something was missing on campus. UNLV was continuing its rise up the ranks of the nation’s most diverse colleges, and talks of a new medical school were heating up, but there wasn’t a dedicated student organization for Latino students interested in healthcare careers. So they started one.

Ashi is the type of person who grew up with a clear view of opportunities that many either take for granted or ignore. He was also well aware of the numbers: in Southern Nevada, nearly a third of the population is Latino, yet they make up only 3 percent of physicians.

“It’s a huge gap, and we need to do more to encourage young Latinos to pursue a career in the health fields,” says Ashi.

Just two years later, the UNLV Latino Pre-Medical Student Association is 45 members strong and growing. In addition to peer support and networking, a key focus for the group is hosting education and outreach events in local schools.

“The reason I’m in the Honors College is because I have an older sibling who helped guide me,” says Ashi. “Many young people don’t have a guide, and they may not think college is an option because they either can’t afford it or they don’t want to burden their families. We need to be a positive voice that they can do it, that if they believe in themselves they can make it happen.”

Ashi and his colleagues are also collaborating with the School of Medicine to develop the new school’s Latino Medical Student Association and to create mentorship opportunities for undergraduates with current medical students.

Rebels Take Chances
Eight years after coming to Las Vegas – and four years after starting his academic career at UNLV – Ashi’s personal experience with health care abroad fuels his aspiration to make a difference in public health just as strongly as the day he made up his mind. He’ll get first-hand experience summer when he participates in Harvard University’s Multidisciplinary International Research Training program in Peru.

He learned of the program around Thanksgiving and spent months secretly laboring over the application. He didn’t want to let his friends know he was applying in case he wasn’t selected, but he said he needed to give it a shot.

Ashi’s risk paid off—he spent most of June and July in Peru’s capital city of Lima researching emerging public health issues with the Harvard School of Public Health.

“You need to be mentally and emotionally strong to succeed in this line of work, and mentorship through this program will be so important as I begin my career in public health,” Ashi said.

Ashi is back at UNLV this fall for his final semester. Then it’s off to medical school, some additional study abroad, and, eventually, maybe, the World Health Organization.

His advice for fellow students?

“Don’t be afraid to take chances.”

Source: unlv.edu
Photo Credit: Josh Hawkins/UNLV Creative Services

Meet Virginia’s First African-American Nanoscientist

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By Tiffany Woodall

This past May, Ginai Seabron became the first African-American woman to earn a B.S. in nanoscience from the College of Science at Virginia Tech.

As one of only 20 graduating seniors in the nanoscience major, which is part of the college’s Academy of Integrated Science, Seabron accepted her degree at the Biocomplexity Institute in Steger Hall among shouts of support and cheers from her peers, friends, and family.

Social media has proven that more than just her personal connections are proud of her accomplishment.

“I didn’t expect it at all,” Seabron said of her post going viral. “It’s overwhelming, but I love it.”

Hours before commencement, Seabron spoke through tears as she reflected on her Virginia Tech experience.

“It is not easy at all being the only African American in the room,” she said. “It’s intimidating.”

She chose not to give up, and in doing so inspired others to pursue the degree. “I’ve actually helped a few other people in my black community transfer into the nanoscience department.”

“I met Ginai during her freshman year while talking to students about our shared interest in nanoscience,” said Virginia Tech President Tim Sands, who also has a nanotechnology background. “We’re proud of her success, and I greatly appreciate her many contributions to the university community. Her strength and insight have been very helpful to me in our efforts to make the Virginia Tech experience more inclusive. I have no doubt that great things are ahead for her.”

Her advice to future students comes from lessons she’s learned along the way.

“Continue to push,” she said. “Rely on your family and your friends. Reach out to your professors. Go to office hours. Create your own office hours if you have to. Be social. Step out of your comfort zone. Get to know the people in your class—they could become your study buddies. You’ll think you’re the only person struggling, but as it turns out, everybody’s struggling.”

With the term “family,” she’s referring to more than just relatives. While her kin have been an incredible support system, the relationships she built through her involvement on campus have sustained her on long days and even longer nights.

“The black community at Virginia Tech is wonderful,” she said. “The Black Cultural Center and everyone in the cultural and community centers are all amazing. They know me as Auntie Nai here. They’re really my family away from home. Without them, I wouldn’t have made it. I can promise you that.”

In response to their encouragement, Seabron served as president of the Black Organizations Council and was a member of Enlightened Gospel Choir, where she was awarded for her commitment to diversity and inclusion at the University Student Leadership Awards. She was a resident advisor during her junior year, a teaching assistant during her sophomore year, and has volunteered with College Mentors for Kids.

“I love helping others, and in every single one of those positions, I’ve had the great opportunity of meeting and helping out other people,” Seabron said. “And they’ve also helped me through.”

Ginai’s mother, Sherita Seabron, describes her daughter as a natural-born leader and said last weekend’s events created the best Mother’s Day she could ask for.

“I feel overjoyed and overwhelmed with emotion,” Sherita said. “I knew she was destined for greatness, and I’m just excited to see what’s next for her.”

Ginai’s post-graduation plans have yet to be solidified, but one thing is certain: she’s looking forward to getting more sleep.

Photo Credit: Steven Mackay
Source: Original article from Student Affairs at Virginia Tech