Future Leaders in Technology Scholarship - High School Award

Funded by
Virtasant Inc.
Learn more about the Donor
$1,000
2 winners every 6 months
Open
Next Application Deadline
May 31, 2021
Next Winners Announced
Jun 30, 2021
Education Level
High School

Right now, Black and Latinx people only make up around 5% - 8% of the tech workforce. Women account for a mere 1 in every four tech jobs. For Native Americans and Indigenous groups, employment numbers are even lower, at around 1% at leading tech companies. These numbers reflect an improvement over the last few years, but this is not nearly enough.

The tech industry sets out to serve a remarkably diverse world. To accomplish this, the industry itself has to reflect that world. At Virtasant, we understand the need to embrace fresh perspectives, probe unexamined problems, and tap into unique ideas. We want to support the innovative minds that represent the groups and communities that are still getting left behind in tech.

To achieve this mission, we created the Future Leaders in Technology scholarship for students from these communities, who are pursuing careers in tech.

The scholarship is open to high school students who plan to pursue a degree in computer science, electrical engineering or data science. You must also be a member of an underrepresented group, including: Black or African American, Hispanic or Latinx, American Indian or Native American, LGBTQA+, and Women.

STEM
Selection Criteria:
Impact, Passion, Drive
$1,000
2 winners every 6 months
Open
Next Application Deadline
May 31, 2021
Next Winners Announced
Jun 30, 2021
Education Level
High School

Scholarship application

Essay Topic

What area of tech are you interested in studying and why? Tell us about a problem that you hope to solve by way of your future education and career in tech.

200–1000 words

Winning Application

Anika Kathuria
Bridgewater-Raritan High SchoolBridgewater Township, NJ
Kynnedy Smith
Columbia University in the City of New YorkShaker Heights, OH
When I was younger, I loved creating contraptions under the name, The Inventress. I made things like vibrating back scratches that reached multiple spots at once and a pulley system that simplified rinsing dishes. Once I got my first taste of gaming through my Pink Nintendo DSI, I quickly became interested in learning how to be a digital inventress through code. After learning how to create a text-based adventure game in the language C# at summer camp, I became obsessed with coding. I participated in computer science camps and research each year after that, and I began creating new “inventions” in the form of creative online tools, games, and websites. I fell in love with computer science because coding is like doing magic with a keyboard. With the correct lines of code, I can create anything I want, from a new game or website to alternate realities and intelligent technologies. Computer science is thrilling because it gives me the ability to literally be a magician, to create something from nothing, and use this ability to better the lives of others. This summer, while reading up on news about the field, I stumbled across an article about a company that conducted the world’s first successful total knee replacement surgery using smart glasses enhanced with augmented reality and artificial intelligence. I was completely awestruck by how this technology enhanced the surgical process, so I decided to write a science article about how artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality (AR) can revolutionize the healthcare sector. I spent hours researching ways these two technologies can be combined to create an augmented human intelligence in healthcare workers, and I even secured interviews with experts from Google Healthcare and the Medical Virtual Reality department at the University of Southern California to broaden my understanding. I gave my all to this project, losing track of time researching potential applications and barriers to integrating this technology into everyday life, and I was very happy to get my article published in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Office of Engineering Outreach Program e-publication at the end of this summer. After studying how AI and AR can be integrated into the healthcare sector, I have become increasingly interested in how this technology can be used to help my community, especially in the midst of the re-emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement this summer. Between the tragic murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless others who look like me, I began thinking of ways this technology can be used to create change during this tense time. I would love to explore the opportunity of a safety integration in AR/AI glasses that could read a person’s constitutional rights to them when they are stopped by the police and display the officer’s badge number and title. I also envision AR/AI glasses made for the police officers to wear that could recognize the person’s face and tell the officer the person’s criminal record, their occupation, if they have a family, etc. Although facial recognition raises some ethical concerns, I believe these issues can be solved with proper regulations in place that ensure the security and diversity of the data collected. The integration of this technology in these situations could bring humanity back into civilian-police interactions, make people feel safer, and even save lives. By pursuing computer science in college, I hope to continue studying this technology and go on to achieve my Ph.D. in the field with a concentration in human-computer interaction and artificial intelligence. In light of the systemic injustices that myself and other minority communities face in our society, I want to become an expert in this field to create a software company that produces technology that accents and improves the minority experience. Through virtual experiences and programs that augment human intelligence, I want to use the magic of computer science to expose people to new perspectives, and better the lives of minority communities.

FAQ

When is the scholarship application deadline?

The application deadline is May 31, 2021. Winners will be announced on Jun 30, 2021.