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Olamiposi Ajao

3085

Bold Points

1x

Nominee

1x

Finalist

1x

Winner

Bio

Hello! My name is Olly Ajao. I am a junior studying Computer Science & Economics at Amherst College. My hobbies include singing, running, reading, and seeing how fast I can solve a Rubik's cube! However, I am most passionate about harnessing the power of technology to drive social change and advocate for marginalized communities! Thank you for your consideration of my application!

Education

Amherst College

Bachelor's degree program
2021 - 2024
  • Majors:
    • Business, Management, Marketing, and Related Support Services, Other
    • Economics and Computer Science

Miscellaneous

  • Desired degree level:

    Doctoral degree program (PhD, MD, JD, etc.)

  • Graduate schools of interest:

  • Transfer schools of interest:

  • Majors of interest:

    • Drama/Theatre Arts and Stagecraft
    • Business/Managerial Economics
  • Not planning to go to medical school
  • Career

    • Dream career field:

      Computer Software

    • Dream career goals:

    • Student Representative

      Alliance for Computing Education
      2022 – Present2 years
    • Teaching Fellowe

      Breakthrough Miami
      2021 – 2021
    • Platform growth Intern

      Nbyula
      2021 – 2021

    Sports

    Track & Field

    Varsity
    2020 – Present4 years

    Basketball

    Varsity
    2012 – 20219 years

    Awards

    • MVP

    Volleyball

    Varsity
    2016 – 20215 years

    Awards

    • MVP

    Research

    • Computer Science

      Kapor center — National Student Leader
      2020 – 2021

    Arts

    • Amherst College

      Theatre
      2022 – Present

    Public services

    • Advocacy

      When We All Vote — Student Representative
      2020 – 2021

    Future Interests

    Advocacy

    Volunteering

    Philanthropy

    Entrepreneurship

    1989 (Taylor's Version) Fan Scholarship
    If my year had a soundtrack, Taylor Swift’s 1989 (Taylor’s Version) would resonate deeply with my emotional journey. Three songs, in particular, encapsulate the transformation I’ve experienced: “Bad Blood,” “All You Had to Do Was Stay,” and “Wildest Dreams.” These tracks, when viewed through the lens of self-reflection and growth, tell a story of anger, hurt, and eventual reconciliation with my old self. “Bad Blood” marks the beginning of my journey. It is a powerful representation of the anger and betrayal I felt towards my past self. The lyrics, “You made a really deep cut / And baby, now we got bad blood,” reflect the internal conflict that arose from decisions and actions that no longer aligned with who I wanted to be. It felt as though the past me had caused harm that was difficult to forgive, leaving scars that couldn’t be easily healed. The line, “Did you have to ruin what was shiny, now it’s all rusted,” speaks to the loss of innocence and the tarnishing of my own perception of self-worth. The chorus, “Now we got problems / And I don’t think we can solve ’em,” encapsulates the feeling of being stuck in a cycle of self-blame and frustration, unable to see a way forward. As the year progressed, the anger gave way to hurt, a phase perfectly captured by “All You Had to Do Was Stay.” This song illustrates the pain of feeling let down by my past self, who seemed to have all the potential but squandered it. The poignant line, “People like you always want back the love they gave away / And people like me wanna believe you when you say you’ve changed,” echoes my struggle to reconcile with the hope that change was possible, yet feeling the weight of past mistakes. The refrain, “Hey, all you had to do was stay / Had me in the palm of your hand,” underscores the frustration of knowing that the path to a better self was within reach, but somehow, I let it slip away. This phase was marked by introspection and a deep sense of loss, as I picked up the pieces of my shattered self-esteem and tried to understand what went wrong. Finally, “Wildest Dreams” represents the reconciliation and acceptance of my past. It is a bittersweet acknowledgment that while the past cannot be changed, it has shaped who I am today. The lyrics, “Say you’ll remember me / Standing in a nice dress / Staring at the sunset, babe,” evoke a sense of nostalgia and acceptance. The imagery of looking back with fondness, even if it’s just in my wildest dreams, signifies a shift from anger and hurt to a place of peace. The line, “You’ll see me in hindsight / Tangled up with you all night / Burning it down,” symbolizes the merging of my past and present selves, recognizing that the memories and experiences, both good and bad, are an integral part of who I am. It’s a realization that these memories will follow me, but they no longer hold the power to define me negatively. In essence, this year has been a journey of emotional evolution. From the fiery anger of “Bad Blood” to the deep hurt of “All You Had to Do Was Stay,” and finally to the reflective acceptance in “Wildest Dreams,” these songs from Taylor Swift’s “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” provide a poignant soundtrack to my path of self-rediscovery. They capture the complex emotions involved in reconciling with my old self and embracing the growth and change that come with it.
    Powering The Future - Whiddon Memorial Scholarship
    The tragic deaths of Rebecca and Richard Whiddon deeply moved me. Though I never knew them personally, their legacy of resilience and brilliance in the face of adversity resonates with me, particularly as I reflect on my own struggles and aspirations. I am a first-generation college student majoring in Computer Science and Economics, driven by a passion for technology, social justice, and global development. Growing up in a low-income household, I witnessed firsthand the barriers that economic disparities create. Overcoming adversity has been a significant part of my journey, shaping who I am and fueling my passion for STEM. Diagnosed with bipolar depression, I have experienced the extreme highs and lows that come with it, making everyday life a struggle. At my lowest point, I contemplated ending my life, but the sudden and unexplained death of my close cousin jolted me into realizing the preciousness and unpredictability of life. This tragic loss forced me to confront the realities of life and death in a way I never had before, helping me to see what truly matters and igniting a determination to honor my cousin's memory by living a life filled with purpose, connection, and resilience. Seeking help and support was the first step in managing my bipolar depression rather than letting it control me. Through therapy and building a strong support network, I learned coping strategies and began to navigate the turbulent emotions that came with my diagnosis. I immersed myself in activities that brought me joy and fulfillment, such as working at my school's Center for Restorative Practices and joining organizations focused on digital equity. These efforts allowed me to give back to my community and use my passion for STEM and technology as a force for good, addressing the digital divide that disproportionately affects low-income communities and developing regions. Addressing educational inequity is deeply personal to me. My commitment to addressing this social issue is driven by my belief that education should be a right, not a privilege. Through roles such as a Teaching Fellow at Breakthrough Miami, Student Advisor with the Alliance for Identity Inclusive Computing Education, and National Student Leadership Representative for the Kapor Center Equitable Computer Science Team, I have worked to create supportive, inclusive, and equitable educational environments with an emphasis on STEM. My financial circumstances have been challenging as I pursue higher education. I have had to balance academic commitments with financial responsibilities, often working multiple jobs to support myself. Despite maintaining a GPA of 3.6 and being actively involved in many extracurricular activities, the financial strain has been a constant hurdle. Receiving a scholarship would provide the financial stability needed to continue my academic and professional development, allowing me to focus on my studies and community work without the added stress of financial uncertainty. This scholarship would significantly support me in achieving my goals by providing the resources necessary to pursue a degree in STEM. My passion for STEM is rooted in my desire to make a positive impact on the world, whether through technological advancements or advocating for inclusivity and equity in education. With this scholarship, I can continue to build on my experiences, drive systemic changes, and contribute to a more inclusive and just society. The legacy of Rebecca and Richard Whiddon, with their incredible talents and passion for STEM, inspires me to strive for excellence and to use my skills to create meaningful change. Their story is a powerful reminder of the impact that individuals can have on the lives of others, and I am determined to honor their memory through my own efforts in STEM and beyond.
    CATALYSTS Scholarship
    As a Nigerian immigrant navigating a new world with five siblings, I discovered early on that community and resilience are the bedrock of success. Growing up in a low-income household, I witnessed firsthand the barriers that economic disparities create. These experiences shaped my ambition to leverage technology as a tool for social change, aiming to bridge the gap between marginalized communities and access to quality education and economic opportunities. If I could do anything with my life, I would work at the intersection of technology and social impact. My journey into social impact began in high school, where I served as the National Student Leadership Representative for the Kapor Center Equitable Computer Science Team. In this role, I designed and implemented an action plan to make computer science more accessible to minority students, presenting my vision to national thought leaders. This initiative led to the launch of three programs that reached over 1,000 students in two years. This experience honed my ability to communicate and collaborate with key stakeholders, which I know are essential traits for a leader dedicated to equity and inclusion. My love for education continued into my freshman year of college when I became a Teaching Fellow at Breakthrough Miami during the summer of 2022. I taught and mentored 22 highly motivated, underrepresented 7th-grade students in math. My goal was not just to teach mathematical concepts but to inspire and empower these students through rigorous lectures, collaborative projects, and hands-on activities. I created daily lesson plans that emphasized creative and real-world applications of math. One day, a student excitedly shared how they used math concepts from our class to help their family budget more effectively. This role was deeply fulfilling as I saw firsthand how education can transform lives. It taught me the importance of creating a supportive and inclusive learning environment, meticulous planning, and adaptability. Most importantly, it reinforced my belief in the power of education to provide equitable access and opportunities for all students, regardless of their background. STEM excites me because of its limitless potential to solve complex problems and drive innovation. Information Technology (IT), in particular, offers tools to address critical issues such as digital inclusion, cybersecurity, and data privacy. My enthusiasm for STEM is fueled by the belief that technology can democratize access to resources and opportunities, thereby creating a more equitable world. My motivation is deeply rooted in a desire to uplift underrepresented communities and ensure that everyone has the opportunity to succeed. By working on projects that enhance digital literacy and provide affordable access to technology, I can help bridge the digital divide. The CATALYSTS scholarship will support my continued growth and enable me to further contribute to a more inclusive and equitable society. I aspire to create spaces for open dialogue about mental health, especially within the Black community, to destigmatize these issues and prevent others from suffering in silence. By sharing my story, I aim to shed light on the struggles many face and continue the fight against mental health stigma. By doing so, I hope to inspire other young women, particularly those from similar backgrounds, to pursue their dreams and believe in their ability to make a significant impact on the world.
    Cat Zingano Overcoming Loss Scholarship
    I never knew that, like ice cream, depression has many different flavors. These flavors, each with their own intensity and distinct bitterness, colored my world in shades of gray before and after being diagnosed with bipolar depression. The highs and lows were extreme and unmanageable, making every day a struggle. I was at my lowest point, contemplating ending my life, unable to see any light at the end of the tunnel. I thought I had tried every flavor imaginable until, during this darkest time, I received a call that would change everything. On a sunny day in April (I remember because I was thinking to myself that this wouldn’t be a bad way to go), my sister called to tell me that my cousin had passed away. The doctors were unable to determine the cause of death, leaving us in shock and despair. My cousin's sudden and unexplained death was a jolt to my system, forcing me to confront the fragility of life in a way I had never done before. My cousin and I had been close, sharing countless memories from childhood to adulthood. Losing her was like losing a part of myself I did not know was there until it was gone. The grief was overwhelming, yet amidst the sorrow, a new perspective began to take shape. Her death, sudden and without warning, made me realize how precious and unpredictable life truly is. In the days following her passing, I found myself reflecting on the things that mattered most. The small, seemingly insignificant moments—laughing together, sharing dreams, supporting each other—took on a profound importance. I began to see that it wasn't the grand achievements or material possessions that defined a meaningful life, but the connections we forge and the impact we have on those around us. This shift in perspective ignited a spark within me, a determination to honor my cousin's memory by living a life that mattered. I decided that I wanted to "fight" for a life filled with purpose, connection, and resilience. No longer was I willing to let bipolar depression dictate my existence. Instead, I resolved to channel my struggles into a force for positive change. One of the first steps I took was seeking help and support. I reached out to therapists and support groups, determined to manage my bipolar depression rather than let it control me. Through therapy, I began to understand the importance of self-care and the necessity of building a strong support network. I learned coping strategies and ways to navigate the turbulent emotions that came with my diagnosis. In addition to seeking help, I also immersed myself in activities that brought me joy and fulfillment. I started working at my school's Center for Restorative Practices, helping others who were facing their own battles with mental health. This work gave me a sense of purpose and allowed me to give back to my community in meaningful ways. Seeing the positive impact I could have on others' lives helped to restore my own sense of self-worth. Furthermore, I began to use my passion for STEM and technology as a force for good. One of the significant challenges today is the digital divide, which disproportionately affects low-income communities and developing regions. By focusing on digital equity, I joined organizations contributing to a more inclusive and just society, ensuring that technological advancements benefited all, not just a privileged few. Through these efforts, I found a renewed sense of hope and determination. My cousin's memory became a guiding light, reminding me to cherish each day and to fight for a life that was not only survivable but also meaningful and fulfilling. I wanted to achieve a life where I could look back and feel proud of the person I had become, despite the challenges I faced. The loss of my cousin forced me to confront the realities of life and death in a way I never had before. It shifted my perspective, helping me to see what truly matters and what I wanted to fight to achieve. Through seeking help, giving back to my community, and advocating for mental health awareness and digital equity, I have found a way to honor my cousin's memory and to create a life filled with purpose and connection. Her death, though tragic and still unexplained, became the turning point that saved my own life and set me on a path towards healing and hope. Just as depression has many flavors, so too does hope. It comes in the form of small victories, meaningful connections, and a renewed purpose. These new flavors, while still complex, have added a sweetness to my life that I never thought possible. And it is these flavors that I now strive to savor and share with others.
    West Family Scholarship
    Addressing the issue of educational inequity is a cause that is deeply personal to me. As a first-generation, low-income student, I have navigated the educational landscape with a profound understanding of the barriers that many students face. My commitment to addressing this social issue is driven by my experiences and the belief that education should be a right, not a privilege. My journey began with my role as a Teaching Fellow at Breakthrough Miami, where I mentored underrepresented students. This experience opened my eyes to the disparities in educational opportunities and the power of mentorship in bridging those gaps. Working closely with these students, I saw firsthand the impact that guidance, support, and encouragement can have on their academic and personal growth. It was here that I realized the importance of fostering a supportive and inclusive educational environment. Building on this experience, I took on the role of Student Advisor with the Alliance for Identity Inclusive Computing Education. In this position, I worked to create academic cultures that were not only inclusive but also celebrated diversity. My efforts were focused on ensuring that all students, regardless of their background, felt valued and had equal opportunities to succeed. This role reinforced my belief in the power of inclusivity and the need for systemic changes to create equitable educational environments. My internship with Nbyula in Berlin further broadened my perspective. Engaging with students and educators from different parts of the world, I gained a deeper understanding of the global challenges in education. I researched and identified strategic initiatives that could support educational advancement, particularly for marginalized communities. This experience highlighted the importance of a global perspective in addressing educational inequity and the need for collaborative efforts to create lasting change. One of my most impactful roles has been serving as the National Student Leadership Representative for the Kapor Center Equitable Computer Science Team. In this position, I advocated for equity in computer science education, a field where minority students are often underrepresented. I spearheaded initiatives aimed at making computer science more accessible and inclusive, focusing on breaking down barriers that prevent minority students from pursuing careers in this field. This work is particularly meaningful to me as it aligns with my passion for technology and my desire to see more diversity in the tech industry. Beyond these roles, I am committed to continuous learning and growth. I believe that staying abreast of the latest research and best practices in education is crucial for effectively addressing educational inequity. Attending conferences, workshops, and engaging in professional development opportunities are integral parts of my strategy to remain informed and effective in my efforts. Receiving a scholarship would significantly support my mission by providing the financial stability needed to continue my academic and professional development. With a GPA of 3.6 and active participation in extracurricular activities such as being a community advisor, an intern for the Center of Restorative Practices, and a member of Club Volleyball, I am dedicated to utilizing every opportunity to further my goals and contribute positively to my community. My work in addressing educational inequity is driven by a deep-seated belief in the power of education and the need for inclusivity. I am grateful for your consideration and look forward to continuing my journey to create equitable educational opportunities for all students.
    Young Women in STEM Scholarship
    Winner
    Essay 1: Motivations and Aspirations I am a first-generation college student majoring in Computer Science and Economics, driven by a passion for technology, social justice, and global development. Growing up in a low-income household, I witnessed firsthand the barriers that economic disparities create. These experiences have shaped my ambition to leverage technology as a tool for social change, aiming to bridge the gap between marginalized communities and access to quality education and economic opportunities. If I could do anything with my life, I would work at the intersection of technology and social impact. My ideal career involves working with international organizations like the United Nations, World Bank, or the International Monetary Fund. These institutions address critical global issues such as poverty, climate change, and human rights violations. By contributing my skills in computer science and economics, I aim to develop innovative solutions that promote sustainable development and equity on a global scale. My motivation is deeply rooted in a desire to uplift underrepresented communities and ensure that everyone has the opportunity to succeed, regardless of their background. I envision using data analytics and technology to create policies and programs that address systemic inequalities. For instance, developing accessible educational technologies that cater to diverse learning needs can empower students from disadvantaged backgrounds to achieve their full potential. In summary, my goal is to harness the power of technology to drive social change and advocate for marginalized communities. By doing so, I hope to inspire other young women, particularly those from similar backgrounds, to pursue their dreams and believe in their ability to make a significant impact on the world. Essay 2: Passion for STEM and Impact in IT STEM excites me because of its limitless potential to solve complex problems and drive innovation. Information Technology (IT), in particular, offers tools to address critical issues such as digital inclusion, cybersecurity, and data privacy. My enthusiasm for STEM is fueled by the belief that technology can democratize access to resources and opportunities, thereby creating a more equitable world. In the realm of IT, I see myself making a positive impact by focusing on digital equity. One of the significant challenges today is the digital divide, which disproportionately affects low-income communities and developing regions. By working on projects that enhance digital literacy and provide affordable access to technology, I can help bridge this divide. For instance, developing low-cost internet solutions or educational platforms tailored for underserved communities can empower individuals with the skills and knowledge needed to thrive in the digital age. My background in computer science equips me with the technical skills to design and implement secure, efficient, and scalable systems. This expertise can be pivotal in sectors like healthcare, where IT solutions can improve patient care through telemedicine, electronic health records, and data analytics. By leveraging technology to enhance healthcare delivery, we can ensure that even the most remote and underserved populations receive quality care. My passion for STEM and IT is driven by a commitment to using technology as a force for good. By focusing on digital equity and innovative IT solutions, I aim to contribute to a more inclusive and just society, ensuring that technological advancements benefit all, not just a privileged few. Essay 3: Overcoming Challenges as a Woman in STEM During college, I faced immense societal pressures and unresolved trauma, leading to a breakdown in my sophomore year and a diagnosis of bipolar depression. This diagnosis was both a relief and a challenge, as navigating college with bipolar depression meant confronting a world often impatient with mental health issues. Some days, getting out of bed felt insurmountable, and other nights, sleep was elusive due to anxiety and racing thoughts. As a young Black woman, I also confronted stigma within my community, where mental health issues are often seen as weaknesses and seeking help is discouraged. This stigma made me hesitant to share my diagnosis, fearing judgment from peers, professors, and even family. Despite these challenges, my experience profoundly shaped my life. It taught me the importance of self-awareness and self-care, helping me recognize when to seek help. This awareness led me to join the Center for Restorative Practices (CRP) at my school, which values diversity, equity, and inclusion while focusing on relationships and community. The CRP provided tools to manage my mental health and advocate for mental health awareness and destigmatization. This journey ignited my passion for advocacy. I aspire to create spaces for open dialogue about mental health, especially within the Black community, to destigmatize these issues and prevent others from suffering in silence. This scholarship is a beacon of hope, reminding us that our struggles shape us into stronger, more empathetic individuals. By sharing my story, I aim to shed light on the struggles many face and continue the fight against mental health stigma.
    Pride in Diversity Scholarship
    Student Life Photography Scholarship