A Colorado School of Mines student spent nearly a week before Thanksgiving working to educate and inspire the next generation of University Innovation Fellows, including the four newest fellowship candidates from Mines.
Asya Sergoyan, a chemical engineering major, was one of 24 current fellows invited back to facilitate the UIF’s Silicon Valley meetup, which this November brought together 350 young innovators for immersive experiences at Stanford University’s d.school and Google. Aspiring fellows also receive six weeks of training online, which has been described as similar to a four-credit course.
“It was interesting to be on the other side,” Sergoyan said. “It was a much larger group than ever before and very international—students from India, a lot of students from South America. It was really cool.”
Sergoyan facilitated a workshop about integrating music into K-12 education. She also delivered a four-minute “Ignite” speech about learning from failure, shifting one’s perspective and using what one has learned to succeed in the future.
For her presentation—15 slides at 15 seconds per slide—Sergoyan drew upon her experience attempting to translate her success with a nonprofit organization she cofounded in high school to Mines.
Grades for Change provided free science and English tutoring to K-8 students. As a freshman at Mines, Sergoyan hoped to do something similar and encourage fellow college students to promote STEM education at local high schools. “We hosted meetings, but no one was ever interested,” Sergoyan said. “Students were too busy, and they didn’t want to do it for free. I realized that this isn’t what the campus needs, but there are other things it does.”
Sergoyan emphasized three ideas in her speech: “You always learn more about yourself from failure; failure and success aren’t discrete; and recognizing failure is a success in itself,” she said.
Sergoyan was one of six Mines students named University Innovation Fellows in February 2016. Before that, only one Mines student had taken part in the program, which seeks to empower students to become agents of change at their schools.
That cohort’s accomplishments on campus include the creation of maker spaces, the innovation competition sponsored by Newmont and a section of freshman orientation devoted to innovation activities. They’re also organizing a regional UIF meetup on campus next September. “We want to fly a bunch of University Innovation Fellows in from all over the country, maybe the world, to see our campus and work with our students to brainstorm things around poverty and the needs of developing countries,” Sergoyan said.
Even though she was at the Silicon Valley meetup to help the newest fellows, Sergoyan found plenty of inspiration herself. “It was the most incredible time, and I’ve met the most incredible people—people who do the craziest jobs, who have started their own companies, who have gone through tragic events. I saw people with cultural differences who were focused on the same ideas.”
“Everybody was so willing to devote their time to help everybody with their speeches,” she said. “It was such a good community that I just want to go back there.”
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