OMSCS fellowship award winners Rafiya Javed (left) and Yali Ren.
Two online Master of Science in Computer Science (OMSCS) students at Georgia Tech have been announced as recipients of the inaugural 2018 OMSCS SnapTravel Fellowship Awards. The students, Rafiya Javed and Yali Ren, will each receive $1,000 to be applied toward degree program costs.
Henry Shi, co-founder and CTO of SnapTravel, recently graduated from the OMSCS program and created the SnapTravel Fellowships to benefit students who identify as belonging to underrepresented communities in STEM fields, as well as students exhibiting entrepreneurial spirit. The fellowships are the first for the OMSCS program.
Encouraging aspirations, promoting diversity
“For me, it’s incredibly important to pay forward my experiences,” said Shi. “Especially with a program like OMSCS, we know that fellowships like this can be meaningful for students who work full-time and also want to pursue their dreams and ambitions, regardless of their background, experience, and challenges.”
“As an international alumnus who also co-founded a company while completing OMSCS, I wanted to find a way to encourage others with similar aspirations and to promote diversity in this field,” said Shi.
Ren is the recipient of the 2018 fellowship for underrepresented students in STEM. This award is designed to, “recognize and reward a student who is pursuing their OMSCS degree and identifies as a member of an underrepresented group in STEM; namely, one who identified as a woman, non-binary, Indigenous, Black, Hispanic and/or Latinx.”
Ren has a background in civil engineering and has studied in both China and the United States at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Through her work as a research scientist, Ren has made great advances in the reliability engineering field. Throughout the OMSCS program, she has maintained a 4.0 GPA and has achieved two research publications. She aspires to become a university professor and in her work for OMSCS, she hopes to “move forward without any fear -- no matter what happens.”
“It is a great honor for me to receive the SnapTravel OMSCS Fellowship as an underrepresented group in STEM,” said Ren. “The fellowship will help motivate me to continue my long-life learning, pursue academic career excellence, and produce more positive impacts on people around me.”
Recognizing entrepreneurial spirit
Javed is the recipient of the 2018 fellowship for entrepreneurial spirit. This award is designed to “recognize and reward a student who is pursuing their OMSCS degree while founding their own startup, or pursuing other entrepreneurial activities.”
Javed is the founder of Shout Health, a navigation software that helps healthcare providers direct their patients to community resources and address their social determinants of health. Her medical school education and background in physics, paired with her newly acquired computer science skills, have provided Javed with the foundation to get Shout Health off the ground and running. The Georgia Tech Create-X accelerator program provided Javed’s team with the initial funds and guidance to start the company.
Shout Health is now performing a pilot study, jointly funded by the American Academy of Pediatrics, taking place at the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Javed is optimistic that this proof-of-concept will help her team tackle enormous public health issues in ways that are beneficial to both patients and the providers that care for them.
"While I self-taught myself some of the skills required to build ShoutHealth, there is no substitute for the depth of knowledge you get from pursuing a formal degree,” said Javed. “I have also learned a lot from my fellow students and the professors I've met through my courses -- they come from a variety of backgrounds and have opened my eyes to innovations and research that I wouldn't have known about otherwise.”
Fellowship recipients were selected through a meticulous application review process managed by SnapTravel with oversight from Georgia Tech’s College of Computing. Natalie Luu, a partner at VC funding entity Lightspeed Venture Partners and an alumna of Y Combinator, provided guidance to SnapTravel throughout the review process in order to ensure diverse perspectives were considered in the selection of the final recipients.
To learn more about SnapTravel’s connection to OMSCS, you can read a feature story about SnapTravel co-founder and OMSCS alumnus, Henry Shi.
If you are interested in applying for the next round of SnapTravel OMSCS Fellowships, you can learn more on the SnapTravel website.