Nikunj Agrawal ’20 at Impact Fellowship
Recently, with funding provided by the Wilson Center, Nikunj Agrawal ’20 was able to be a part of the Impact Fellowship, a program for students of computer science interested in social entrepreneurship. The Impact Fellowship is a three week long program where students are tasked with using technology to come up with viable solutions to real world problems, such as women’s access to education and environmental degradation. Students are also able to attend lectures, keynote presentations and guest speakers coming from a diverse background of startups, nongovernmental organizations, colleges and universities, and impact investment firms. In addition to taking classes on subjects ranging form graphic design to machine learning, students were mentored by experts and leaders in the field for the duration of their projects.
Agrawal writes that he “learned not only some important development tools that I’ll need to succeed in my future endeavors but also learned how to become an innovator and a leader.” He was challenged not just to think up solutions to the world’s problems but to learn to be a leader and a listener and to develop organizational and time management skills. He was able to network with the guest speakers, hosts, mentors, and leaders of the program and make invaluable personal and professional connections. Agrawal’s STEM-focused course work hasn’t always allowed him to pursue his interest in socio-political and economic issues, but at the Impact Fellowship he was able to dive into those topics while also building his resume for other jobs in the tech world.
Trying to find solutions to the world’s problems, or even to see the good in a world so riddled with systemic injustice and tragedy, can be dispiriting and discouraging. But Agrawal was able to leave the Impact Fellowship with renewed vim for fighting the good fight. He writes, the program “really helped me to leave my inhibitions and apprehensions behind and motivated me to work to use my strengths to make a difference to the world.” That difference has been felt first at the computer science table, and CS Thursday extra where Agrawal has passed on his experience to other interested STEM students.