Zainab

“Being involved in Mouse made me who I am. Mouse taught me to believe in myself and to create something that will have a lasting impact.”

  • Mouse Alum, Hudson High School of Learning Technologies

  • Mouse Digital Portfolio: Sol-Tech, Dining Band, Extend-an-Arm, Gap Assist

  • Apprenticeships: New York City Council, ROKO Labs, Mozilla Foundation

  • Bachelor’s Degree, Political and Social Thought, University of Virginia (2018)

What was the impact of being involved with Mouse in high school?

Zainab immigrated from Nigeria when she was 12 and became involved in the Mouse program at her all-digital high school.  Once she joined Mouse, Zainab felt she had many people who believed in her and what she could accomplish.  “Joining Mouse showed me who I can be.  Mouse brings out the potential in youth through technology and helps you to be the best you can be.  Mouse brings out the leader in you.”

How did you become involved in design?

Zainab joined Mouse Design League in 9th grade.  As a member of Design League, she learned the process of human centered design and created technology projects to positively impact the lives of others.

The focus her first year was designing technology around green energy and the environment.  With her team, Zainab created “Sol-Tech” by attaching solar panels powered by an Arduino microprocessor to a hat and messenger bag, which could power any USB portable device using energy from the sun. “Sol-Tech taught me that you can actually design technology that serves a purpose and helps someone.”

Zainab’s next project, Dining Band, assisted those who were visually impaired while dining.  “Dining Band was solving real life challenges.  When I saw the face of the person we designed this for light up, that was time I realized that this is who I want to be.  I knew that I wanted to become a maker and help others.”

“Designing these projects was everything during high school.  Mouse was a huge part of my high school experience.”

"Through Mouse, I learned about technology, but also so much more about being a great person.  Mouse taught me to think outside of myself and how I could make life better for other people."

What did you bring to college as a result of Mouse?

Zainab is studying “Political and Social Thought,” an interdisciplinary program at the University of Virginia (UVA) that gives her the ability to take classes across many areas, including math, engineering and politics.  “Mouse bridged the gap for me. I had the hard skills, but Mouse gave me the soft skills.  Mouse taught me to believe in myself.  I didn’t learn that anywhere else other than Mouse.”

Zainab brought her experience in design to her college experience.  She is involved “Hack Cville,” a group of entrepreneurial innovators in the UVA and greater Charlottesville community.  As a member of Hack Cville, Zainab created a project for low income students to budget and save money for larger investments.  She also started a scholarship process for students at UVA.

“I use the design process I learned through Mouse in everything I do.  It’s what I do in my everyday life.  With Mouse, there was always a purpose of everything we created.”

Zainab also credits her experiences with Mouse in becoming a confident public speaker.  “Mouse taught me to be confident and that what I have to say is valuable.”

How do you feel about having more young women pursue paths in technology?

When Zainab joined Design League, she was the only young women in the program at the time.  She feels strongly that more young women  

“It’s really important to show girls that they can do whatever they set their mind to.  We need to level the playing field and have more women role models.  When you see people that are doing it that look like you, it makes you feel that you can do it too."

What’s next?

Zainab is considering pursuing International Law after graduation and being an advocate for individuals in developing countries.  

“No matter I what I do, I’ll always want to make a difference for people.  Through Mouse, I learned about technology, but also so much more about being a great person.  Mouse taught me to think outside of myself and how I could make life better for other people."

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