What are you up to right now? What projects and new ideas are exciting you personally, academically, professionally?
Since the quarantine started, I have been working on many side entrepreneurial ventures that have helped me stay productive. I founded a national youth-led history podcast that aims to redefine how history is being taught inside the classroom, and hope to publish the episodes starting in September or October. Fifteen teen podcasters from across the country have been selected to each choose a history book of their choice (in any topic) and interview the author/historian directly on the prevalence of the topic in American society. Since the project started in late June, we have been able to raise more than $50,000 to produce our podcast, and we are super excited to gain support from amazing museums and institutions to drive a conversation change on how to teach history. I have also been leading a vacation planner startup over the past couple of months and hope to release beta testing in the fall of 2020.
Have you been keeping in touch with your Bezos Scholar Alumni, and if so — how?
I have been keeping in touch with a couple scholars in my cohort by coordinating check-in zoom calls every few months. I am also very grateful to join some of the sessions alumni have created to bring the Bezos Scholars from all cohorts together. Whether it was a group discussion discussing the implications of the new Hamilton musical, or hanging out with scholars from way back to 2008! I have kept in contact with one of the scholars in my cohort, Nicolette Peji, and am super glad to work with her on one of my startup ventures. It is such a tight-knit community and I am excited for the reunion happening next year!!
Which influential books, albums, podcasts, or films would you personally recommend to the BSP community of curious minds?
I have been spending a lot of time reading various books and podcasts about current event issues that is highly relevant to our current generation. I enjoyed reading "The Sixth Extinction", "The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided By Politics", and "21 Lessons for the 21st Century" and would highly recommend these books. Some podcasts I have loved listening to are Planet Money, Stuff You Should Know, and Everything is Alive.
Who or what are you finding inspiration in right now?
I'm finding lots of inspiration through the friends I have been able to connect with through video chat! I recently placed a poll on my Instagram story and asked if anyone wanted to speak for an hour to catch up or check in. I was beyond amazed by the fact that 80 people followed through to jump on a zoom call with me. I have learned so much from how others are coping with the current stress, and gained so much motivation from hearing the goals each person has set for themselves. I am super inspired by the young generation's ambition to find solutions to the most pressing challenges of this century.
Anything else you want to share with the BSP community?
Previous to the coronavirus situation, I had deferred my admission to college because I received a fully funded scholarship by the US government to study Arabic in Morocco. I was hoping to move to Africa in mid-September; however, those plans have been cancelled. At the moment, I am open to explore various options and live spontaneously -- being able to jump from one interest to another during my gap year will really help my personal development and understanding of my passions. If the coronavirus situation clears up, I hope to be in Morocco for the spring semester and continue my studies in the Arabic language before heading to USC!