By Edwina Duenas, Communications Associate
Technovation is hosting its 6th World Pitch Competition in San Francisco. Technovation is a global technology entrepreneurship competition for middle and high school girls. With the support of coaches and mentors, teams from all of over the world have created mobile apps to address issues in their community. The 10 finalist teams pitched their apps before a panel of judges on June 24. The panel included tech leaders in the Bay Area, including TechWomen Cultural Mentor Paria Rajai. We’re excited to grow our partnership with Technovation in the coming months and continue supporting TechWomen alumnae in launching the competition in their communities.
Program Director Arezoo Miot provided the keynote at the pitch event. Working with women in STEM through TechWomen, Arezoo gave her insights and advice to young women in the field. Here’s what she shared with participants on pursuing their dreams and finding their “inner warrior.”
1. You are beautiful. I’ve seen the #smartisbeautiful hashtag on social media, and I love it.
I was such a nerd growing up. I had glasses beginning in kindergarten. I had really curly hair that my parents would cut short, so it turned into a mushroom. In fact, my fifth-grade school picture was cut off because my hair went out so wide. I had a funny name, and I did not look like everyone else. It was hard being a kid!
But what I didn’t realize then was that I was awesome – I had tons of friends, my teachers loved me, I played the piano, I got good grades, I had lots of fun roller skating in the summer and sledding in the winters. So why did I focus so much on what I looked like, or what people thought of me? I know so much of this is natural; it’s part of growing up. And as an adult, we still struggle with this.
Let me say that you will be happier if you release yourself from this requirement to be perfect. The people who love you love you as you are, and the flaws you think you have, others see as beauty. When you let go of that, you’re able to spend so much of your time and yourself being you and being free to do whatever it is that drives you in life.
2. Find a passion you truly enjoy. Don’t ask yourself, “What do you like?” Ask yourself, “What makes you mad? What would you change if you could?” Think to yourself, if you had one minute with somebody influential, say President Obama, what would you tell him? And then go out there and fight to make things better.
Have you all heard Jack Andraka‘s Ted Talk?
A very close family friend of Jack, someone he considered an uncle, died of pancreatic cancer. At the time, Jack was 13 years old. As you may know, pancreatic cancer has a very poor survival rate because it’s usually detected at stage 4. He was devastated, and even more than that, he was furious. He did not think this was fair, and he went on a mission to find out why. Long story short, Jack worked with doctors and others to develop a new type of diagnostic test that is simple, inexpensive and helps detect cancer at an early-stage. The test is over 90% accurate in detecting the presence of the biomarker for the cancer. And why? All of this because he was mad and found a true passion he was willing to fight for.
3. Find your inner warrior. Life will have its ups and downs. I’m sure you all know exactly what I’m talking about. And as you get older, it continues. Some months and even years are good, while others are more challenging. Have the strength, patience and faith to know that you will overcome whatever adversity comes your way. Do not give up hope. Trust that these are opportunities that will make you grow. These challenges in life help you evolve into the amazing, strong woman who can conquer anything the world brings your way.
4. Listen to your gut. As you grow up, everyone will have an opinion about you and your life decisions. Know that you cannot please everyone, despite how much you may want to. And trust me, although it does not end as you get older, it definitely gets better. In particular, it’s adults like me that LOVE to give advice to younger generations (that’s pretty much what I’m doing right now!). On our end, we feel it’s our duty to pass along our wisdom. But it’s yours to take or leave. You have to listen to what you know is right. Trust your own intuition and follow your dreams. Ultimately, your life is in your hands.
5. Enjoy the ride. Life is a journey. It’s a process. So take breaks and most of all, have fun. Don’t take yourself so seriously. When you fail at something, just get right back up. Laugh it off. In fact, laugh as much as you can. Because life goes by quickly and you want to be sure it just doesn’t pass right by you. Be present and mindful on your very special path.