Guest post by Kanoatkhon Umurzokova, 2023 Fellow from Uzbekistan
Editor’s note: Kanoatkhon has been invited as a guest blogger to share her voice, perspective and experiences with the program and community.
All the way to Illinois Tech
From the 27th floor of my apartment in the city of Chicago, I was observing all the beauty of the urban landscape — tiny household backyards, the curvy silhouette of the Chicago River, double decker trains passing over the horizon, and mountains from skyscrapers blinking back the sunlight through the blue glass facades. I grabbed my bag and headed to the Illinois Institute of Technology for the first session with my professional mentor. How would you feel if you were in my shoes? I felt…determined. It’s the sensation you get when you relish every moment of your professional growth in the TechWomen program.
Waste Technology has united us in mentorship
Waste is an inseparable part of our households and industrial productions. Every domain of life sciences is connected with waste management. Every commodity we use in daily life eventually becomes waste. Every production process generates waste, emphasizing the global shift towards building a circular economy. The TechWomen program united two individuals from different continents, fostering collaboration on topics like waste management.
I was perfectly matched with my mentor, Ms. Weslynne Ashton – a sustainable systems scientist. She holds a PhD from Yale University, co-directs Food Systems Action Lab at the Institute of Design and serves as a Professor at the Stuart School of Business. Presently, she is involved in a nationwide project, Multiscale Resilient, Equitable, and Circular Innovations with Partnership and Education Synergies (RECIPES) for Sustainable Food Systems, uniting 14 universities and institutions focused on reducing waste across the United States. This aligned closely with my professional endeavors. As the founder of Eco Mons Vita LLC, an engineering consultancy, I collaborate with industrial private companies to repurpose waste and promote environmental sustainability.
Walk through my mentoring day
The Lab is adorned with an array of illustrations, graphs and posters about “Designing the Systems.”
During the first session with my mentor, she sketched out a map of my ongoing projects on the whiteboard. We established goals we want to achieve by the end of the fellowship. By the end of our session, I felt like I had gained an elder sister – supportive, attentive and incredibly inspiring. In front of me there was sitting a woman whose professional achievements instilled in me the courage to dream big.
Together we are stronger
The professional mentorship aspect of the TechWomen program holds multiple valuable impacts. You gain a coach, a colleague, and also get acquainted with a strong personality. We both had so much to reflect on as women. The power of women supporting one another is truly remarkable!
How can I help you? I am glad to be connected with you on the topics like waste management, circular economy, GHG inventory, women entrepreneurship and empowerment.
I am founder of engineering company Eco Mons Vita LLC. I have studied in Wageningen University, one of the world’s top universities in Environmental Sciences. I have worked on the Green Climate Fund and the European Food Safety Authority, and for the past few years at my company we have been contributing to the formation of circular economy in Central Asia. One of my interests is building mental bridges between different domains of life sciences and waste management. I do it by publishing articles about the circular economy and technology adaptation in my LinkedIn Newsletter, Mushtaree’s Blog, and my YouTube podcast, Say Something Circular.