#WomeninSTEM · #WomeninTech · women who reign

Women Who Reign: Alyssa Shah

I’ve been a fan of Michelle Obama’s ever since she exclaimed, “When they go low, we go high.” I really enjoyed her autobiography, Becoming. Much like Obama, I feel I will never “arrive.” I will continue to learn, adapt, grow, and evolve in my efforts to improve myself and the world around me.



Tell us about yourself along with a fun fact!:
Hello ReigningIt! My name is Alyssa Shah and I am a rising sophomore at The Dalton School. I am the youngest of three girls and am very interested in STEM. My discovery of computing and technology was a fortunate accident. I first became interested in computer science and robotics when I joined my school’s robotics team in 5th grade. I participated in First Lego League Robotics competitions in 5th and 6th grade and in RoboCup Junior in 7th and 8th grade, and was the lead programmer all four years. I learned how to program robots in LEGO Mindstorms, Arduino, and ROBOTC over that time. I enjoyed robotics and began to develop a greater love for computing. I began teaching myself how to program in languages like Python and Java. The more programming I learned, the more my interest in computer science blossomed. Last summer, I was selected to participate in a National Security Agency and National Science Foundation GenCyber Program and learned how to program underwater seaperch robots. I am driven by the notion that my programing can affect positive change. I was selected to participate in the United State of Women Conference as a change maker scholar where I learned that teen vaping has become a national epidemic. In response, I created The DrugSense Initiative (www.drugsenseinitiative.org), a for the youth, by the youth online program to combat drug use and abuse and reduce its devastating effects. I believe that awareness is the first step in tackling this issue.

Two fun facts about me are that I love playing volleyball. I have been playing for the past four years and enjoy  being a part of a team. Another fun fact is that I stress paint – I find painting landscapes relaxing! 

What hashtag (#) describes you/defines your life goals or life journey?:
#BeTheChange

What are your favorite websites, apps, or other tech tools?:
Two of my favorite websites are The Skimm and Tasty. I love reading the Daily Skimm because it provides belief highlights to important events that are happening around the world. When I was in 7th grade, I participated in the Current Events club at my school and every meeting, we would talk about a different problem or event that was happening around the world.

My second favorite website/app is Tasty. I enjoy cooking and baking. It is fun to take simple ingredients and turn them into delicious meals.  


Who is someone who inspires you? What knowledge has this person imparted?:
Julie Carrier, the CEO of Girls Lead Worldwide, inspires me. I heard Julie Carrier speak at the Girl Up Leadership Summit in Washington, DC. She is inspiring because she teaches young women to be proud of who they are and to embrace their potential. During the leadership summit, she spoke about the best advice she had ever received, “Remember your ABC’s (Always Be Confident).” This piece of advice resonated with me because I think that if you are confident in yourself, than others will be confident in you. This is one quote I will always remember because it can be applied in any setting, at any time. 

What song makes you want to dance, gives you courage to face the day, or makes you feel strong?:
Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor. My favorite line is “Don’t lose your grip on the dreams of the past. You must fight just to keep them alive.” This song inspires me not to pursue my technological aspirations. 


Describe a challenge you faced or a crossroads in your life that defined your path.:
I was one of only three girls on a 15-person robotics team.  Even though I love computer science and robotics, I am aware of the gender gap that exists in STEM because I noticed it at my school. I sometimes felt like my voice was being drowned by all the boys in the room. Whenever I expressed my ideas, some of the boys didn’t listen because they thought they knew more than me. It was through this experience that I ultimately found the strength to speak up and be confident. Because I have experienced the gender inequality in STEM first hand, I want to be a role model for younger kids who feel like they do not have a voice, and teach them to always “Remember their ABC’s (Always Be Confident).” – Julie Carrier. 


Describe your ideal job.:
I would like to be a surgeon and develop technologies that improve the health of those in medically underserved areas.


What knowledge would you impart to women in order for them to REIGN their lives?:
I would tell other women to believe in themselves and to surround themselves with people who bring them up.



Of note… Alyssa created a for the youth, by the youth, non-profit organization, The DrugSense Initiative (www.drugsenseinitiative.org), to help combat drug use and reduce its devastating effects. She received a grant from The Medical Letter to further develop this program. Alyssa developed an online curriculum with modules to teach teens about the dangers of vaping. She is a member of the New York City HRA Youth Leadership Council, a Changemaker scholar for the United State of Women, and a National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) Aspirations Tri-State Award winner and National Honorable Mention. Alyssa is a regional ambassador for CyberSensibility, a children’s book reviewer for Bank Street College of Education, and a presenter for Strong – The Magazine for Girls. She is also a GirlUp United Nations Community Leader. Alyssa was selected to attend the Dartmouth Institute for Security, Technology, and Society summer program, the National Security Agency and National Science Foundation GenCyber summer program, and Kode With Klossy.

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