Hello STEMFuture Readers!

In April 2019, I learned that I was selected as 1 of 25 national winners of Ashoka and General Motors’s STEM for Changemaking Challenge. I was absolutely ecstatic – not only did I win mentorship and a chance to grow STEMFuture, I also won an all-expenses paid, 3-day trip to the STEM for Changemaking Summit held at the General Motors headquarters in Detroit, Michigan. So you’re probably wondering who the amazing organization that put all of this together is – in this case, there are two: Ashoka and General Motors.

  • A little about Ashoka: Ashoka is a global organization that identifies and invests in leading social entrepreneurs – individuals with innovative and practical ideas for solving social problems. They build and cultivate a community of change leaders who see that the world now requires everyone to be a changemaker, thus transforming institutions and cultures worldwide so they support changemaking for the good of society. Ashoka frequently partners with companies to make initiatives and challenges like this possible, and for this particular challenge, they partnered with General Motors.
  • A little about General Motors (GM) from their website: “General Motors has been pushing the limits of transportation and technology for over 100 years. Today, we are in the midst of a transportation revolution. And we have the ambition, the talent and the technology to realize the safer, better and more sustainable world we want. We envision a future of zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion, and we have committed ourselves to leading the way toward this future”.

The experience:

  • Detroit: The STEM for Changemaking Summit was held in Detroit. This was my first time being in Detroit, and it was incredible. Before taking part in the summit, I didn’t know much about Detroit other than the fact that it is famous for its automobile company headquarters. But this changed after I got there. On the first day, Ashoka held a scavenger hunt that spanned all over downtown Detroit, and while running from store to restaurant to small business with fellow changemakers, I learned that the city of Detroit has an incredible entrepreneurial spirit and positivity – and this aspect of it is severely underrated. I was so glad to have gotten to learn more about Detroit and its unique spirit.
  • What I learned: I learned so much over the course of just 3 days at the summit, but what surprised me the most was that failure is a lot more common among changemakers than I thought. These fellow young people who are effecting change in the world – that I was so fortunate to meet during the summit – they have all failed a lot before getting to where they are right now. Learning this made me more confident, because they are living examples proving how taking failure and using it improve yourself and your initiatives is the best way to react to failure.
  • The people: I have to say, it was easily the people that made this summit so special. It’s not very often that this many young changemakers get to be in the same room and get to know one another. The experience was amazing, and I loved getting to know the people behind incredible initiatives.

Aside from working with Ashoka to provide me with this experience to meet other young changemakers and tell the story of STEMFuture, General Motors was so generous to award STEMFuture with a $1000 grant to grow the initiative and take it to the next level. I am so deeply grateful for all that Ashoka and GM have given me, and I am so excited to continue growing STEMFuture and spreading our impact in all the ways that I can.