5 Stanford juniors had been chosen for the inaugural Voyagers cohort, a scholarship program that goals to help college students dedicated to careers in public service. This system was created by former President and First Woman Barack and Michelle Obama in partnership with Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky.
The primary Voyager cohort consists of 100 college students chosen from a pool of almost 1,800 candidates from throughout the US. The scholarship program consists of monetary help of as much as $50,000, a 10-year journey stipend and entry to a community of mentors. Students additionally obtain funding and free Airbnb housing to pursue a so-called “Summer time Voyage,” the place students can work and journey around the globe to realize worldwide experiences. Furthermore, the Stanford awardees will congregate Nov. 17 for a fall summit in New York, the place they are going to meet Obama, Chesky and the opposite students in individual.
According to the Voyager’s broad definition of public service, all 5 Stanford recipients carry completely different backgrounds and pursuits. Their commitments to public service embody help of the queer Hmong neighborhood, the event of human-centered expertise requirements, public training, useful resource equality in international tech and inclusion in technology-focused industries.
Chali Lee ’24, who’s learning political science and minoring in Asian American research, intends to additional pursue his work inside the queer Hmong neighborhood by means of the scholarship program. “Rising up, I really believed I used to be the one queer Hmong individual to exist, and I didn’t meet another queer Hmong particular person till I used to be about 17 years previous,” Lee mentioned.
With the journey alternatives offered by the scholarship, Lee mentioned he plans to discover new views of queer Hmong communities in Southeast Asia and different components of the U.S. and to grow to be a voice for his or her tales.
Erik Rozi ’24, a pc science main, mentioned he’s passionate in regards to the intersection of expertise and authorities. Specifically, he mentioned he’s concerned with exploring how folks can use expertise and synthetic intelligence for social good to modernize governments.
For his “Summer time Voyage,” Rozi hopes to intern at a start-up regarding tech and authorities, and he plans to journey to Europe. “I by no means traveled on my own outdoors of the nation, so it could be tremendous cool to expertise tradition in addition to tech coverage in Europe,” Rozi mentioned.
Frances Suavillo ’24, an English main, mentioned she is obsessed with public training fairness. Suavillo has labored with the Los Angeles Unified College District since highschool and intends to proceed her work in public training all through the Voyager program.
She grew up in Carson, Calif. after immigrating to the U.S. from the Philippines when she was 9 years previous.
“I noticed how tough it’s to attempt to reach a neighborhood like mine the place not lots of people actually anticipate you to,” Suavillo mentioned. “There’s barely any folks from my metropolis who get into faculty.”
By way of mentorship and journey alternatives as a Voyager, Suavillo hopes to additional increase her public training expertise to be an advocate for academics and college students in her hometown, Carson. “The one method I understand how to actually make a distinction in my neighborhood is thru training,” Suavillo mentioned. ”So I simply attempt my finest to return there and assist out at any time when I can.”
Itbaan Nafi ’24 is a Bangladeshi American scholar learning product design and worldwide relations. With the funding and mentorship supplied by the scholarship, Nafi hopes to implement an academic workshop in Bangladesh throughout his “Summer time Voyage.”
The workshop’s purpose is to show low-income college college students in Bangladesh methods to make the most of the intersection of pc science, political science and product design to raised sort out points inside their very own communities.
“I had an thought about [the workshop] earlier than making use of to the scholarship,” Nafi mentioned. “As soon as the [Voyager] alternative got here, I figured now could be my probability to truly implement it and make a distinction on the planet.”
Makenna Turner ’24, who’s majoring in pc science and product design, focuses on utilizing her background in expertise to make tech areas extra equitable. Her ardour for creating extra equitable tech workplaces is rooted in private expertise. “It simply looks like there’s lots of disrespect and other people don’t worth girls’s concepts,” Turner mentioned.
Turner mentioned the Voyager scholarship will permit her to journey to Japan and the Netherlands, two locations with completely different work cultures from the US. She hopes to shadow and interview girls who work at rising tech firms in these places and observe how they navigate their environments.
‘An amazing alternative’
All 5 Voyager students expressed their gratitude for this system’s mentorship community and the monetary help that alleviates their faculty debt. Because the scholarship is need-based, candidates needed to reveal monetary want with a view to be thought of for this system.
“I’ve been working three jobs over the past two years to get myself by means of undergrad and I additionally ship a refund dwelling to my household within the Philippines,” Suavillo mentioned. “It’s simply an enormous weight lifted off of my shoulders understanding that I don’t should work myself to the bone to complete faculty.”
Along with funding, the Voyager scholarship supplies coaches, who help the Voyagers alongside their journey. Referring to the provided mentorship, Nafi mentioned: “It’s an incredible alternative and I need to profit from it.”
Rozi echoed Nafi, expressing gratitude for the completely different views and lived experiences mentors can present: “The mentors have nice insights about different potential [career] alternatives that I haven’t even thought of.”
Lee mentioned that his coaches have helped him join with Hmong professors and work out his journey plans. “I actually search to tug that from their mentorship, to see how I could make this imaginative and prescient that I’ve for my neighborhood really come into fruition,” Lee mentioned.
As college students who efficiently went by means of the appliance course of, the Stanford Voyagers share their private suggestions for college kids concerned with making use of themselves.
“Being dedicated to public service at a core degree, not simply checking packing containers to get a scholarship, is admittedly essential,” Rozi mentioned.
“Present that you simply genuinely care and you actually need to take advantage of out of this chance,” Nafi mentioned, including that displaying one’s willingness to be an energetic neighborhood member within the scholar cohort is important.
“Don’t promote your self brief,” mentioned Suavillo. “Simply do it. Apply for it.”