MEET THE PARTICIPANTS
Chris Tugman '16
About me: I'm working at two tech startups in Toronto. First is peer to peer lending, which is helping small business tap alternative sources of capital. I co-founded another startup on fractionalized shares business, which makes investing more accessible to those who have limited capital and struggle to navigate the complex world of capital markets. Working at start ups mean you wear a lot of different hats and you take on a lot of responsibility early. Its been tremendous for me to learn to be self directed and take ownership of my work and seeing the impact. The experience of building companies is exhilarating, especially when the customers you serve deeply appreciate what you’re doing.
Michael Vaughan '16
About me: Entrepreneurs are DIY businessmen and have to constantly teach themselves new steps. My grandfather started a small equipment rental business in Virginia just two years before his government pension was up. Now, most of family works for the business and they've become a comfortable franchise with seven storefronts in two states. Seeing this genuine DIY spirit in my own family has inspired me to make something of my own at the intersection of music, technology, and media.
Olivia Chavez '16
About me: This past summer, I interned with a news organization on the Consumer Insights Team. After Wes, I hope to combine my interests in human centered design and big data to pursue a career in User Experience Research. I see myself being able to make change in the future through product design and I think that in Tech there is an opportunity to make things that serve a purpose and also have a humanitarian purpose. I picture Silicon Valley as a place of constant innovation and change and a place of opportunity for someone looking to create.
Jacob Sussman '17
Major: Film Studies
About me: Entrepreneurship represents how technology and design can be leveraged to make the world a better place. We have tools that pose the potential to make our society more equitable, prosperous, and efficient, yet all too often fail to do this. For example, sharing economy apps like Uber may be creating a new underclass while soaring rent prices in San Francisco have become a hallmark of the industry’s inequality and privilege. In the face of these errs, I don’t lose hope but rather feel strengthened in my resolve to create responsible and ethical technology. I believe that these tools, when thoughtfully implemented and designed, can improve the world, and I would like to dedicate my life to realising this potential.
Leah Cabrera '17
Major: Mathematics, American Studies
About me: I am interested in the music scene and architecture. I want to create spaces where artists who have been marginalized can feel safer and inclined to express and shape their creativity and ideas. Music is a powerful tool of self-expression and making spaces solely dedicated to rappers and the hip-hop scene, to craft new sounds is something that is missing. I’m inspired by the message from Miss Rizos Salon, a business found to encourage others to challenge and redefine their beauty standards. By creating the first natural hair salon Miss Rizos, found not only a way to celebrate blackness but also to initiate conversation about racial cleansing in the Dominican Republic. Dominicans view race as a “plethora of color-coded terms” such as negrtia/o (dark skinned) and have a history of a disassociation of blackness and the desire to claim whiteness. The idea of my business – a combination of music and architecture– is based on the same message that Miss Rizos Salon allows for others to challenge ideas that affect themselves.
Fortune Jackson-Bartelmus '18
Major: German, French Studies
About me: When I was sixteen, I formed my own computer-building business called Unique Computer Design. I have been fascinated with technology since I was a child and that enthusiasm has only increased as I have gotten older. This summer I quit my job with an hourly wage so that I could learn Android programming on teamtreehouse.com, and even though I only made a small bit of money this summer from working with my father doing carpentry a few hours a week. I felt confident that my decision to learn a creative technical skill rather than work a repetitive job would allow me to become a more experienced entrepreneur. It is easier to be satisfied with complacency than to have resilience in the face of adversity, but it is the constant waves that polish the rock, not the stagnant waters.
Sarah Xu '18
About me: Prior to Wesleyan, I had no interest or experience in computer science. This past summer, however, I became a research assistant for the Mathematics and Computer Science Department where I learned how to program. I was immediately hooked: it was such a thrill to create useful and complex programs from nothing. My fascination with computer science grew from there, and I am currently taking computer science courses at Wesleyan while teaching myself various computer programming tools. Since technology plays an integral part in every aspect of the creation of a business, from customer communications to product design and development, I hope to incorporate both business and my newfound interest in technology into my career. I look forward to opportunities that will allow me to learn more about the intersection between business and technology so I can grow as an entrepreneur – and what better way to learn more about it than at the touchstone of innovation, Silicon Valley!
Shirley He '18
Major: Computer Science
About me: Entrepreneurship is a certain kind of craft, unique and mystical all on its own. It’s got a special pull, a sly, charismatic charm that envelops the strong-willed person into its hazy clutches. To me, entrepreneurship is magic, and having the ability to see real life instances at Silicon Valley of ideas put to place will be such an amazing opportunity.
Vivian Liu '18
Major: Psychology, Writing and Study of Education Certificate
About me: Living in this technological age, entrepreneurship is operating at scales and speed incomparable to the past. I come from a place – Taiwan – that is still fairly traditional in terms of business style. We experienced a huge economic boom in the latter half of the twentieth century, but recently this growth has slowed down in comparison to our neighboring countries, a huge part due to the fixation on following "the old ways." I believe that this problem is hugely tied to education -- a field that I am very passionate about -- and that by changing our heavy memory-based and discussion-lacking traditional education, we can raise more original and creative young people in the future, who will then transform these skills to affect the world through entrepreneurship. I wish to provide a basic guideline of how education can be tailored to support students who want to pursue this field in the future. I cannot wait to bring what I learn from Silicon Valley Trip back home to contribute to its growth!
Alvin Chitena '19
Major: Computer Science and Mathematics
About me: I am the Founder of Zim Code, a free programming school that will introduce Zimbabwean youths into the vast world of coding and provide them with the resources they will need. I formed this startup because the number of youths that have a background in programming and Computer Science in Zimbabwe is alarmingly low. Within a year, I look forward to starting a corporate version of Zim Code which gives the youths a platform to apply their learned skills e.g. website design and management, network maintenance and data management, just to name a few.