This is the story of a young girl who had the passion of doing something different; who discovered the potential of youth in bringing about change and how positively it can impact the world.
Rida Yumn Ahmed is a high schooler in the junior year from a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) background, public speaker, a youth advocate for UN SDGs and an activist in social service, delving into different areas, one at a time.
When I was in grade 6, my mom asked me “What do you want to become when you grow up?”. My reply came in a spitfire, “A social activist!”.
That was in contrast to the cliches of a doctor, engineer or pilot. I have always wanted to serve society and make an impact and eventually, my zeal for that helped me discover opportunities and made me a youth advocate for different causes including adult literacy, spreading awareness of STEM education, gender gap etc.
I have done volunteering and served as an ambassador for various organizations. Soon, I realized that serving humanity is not the same as being a philanthropist or a humanitarian. One can do their bit for the development of the society by working in STEM and non-STEM areas as well.
At 16, I am starting my soon to be launched global community-based initiative, “Seize The Goals” which will work to achieve the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals.
I am a technology buff who loves to see the way modernization is impacting the future, and this got me the place of a mentee at ‘Learn It, Girl!’ This program was born as a project of the Romanian and Polish recipients of the Google Anita Borg Scholarship in 2014 to help realize Anita Borg’s vision of 50% women in computing by 2020.
Alongside this, I am associated with Voices Of Youth, an online community by UNICEF.
When I think about it, my passion for social service and community service was ignited through Interact Club.
Interact is a Rotary-sponsored service club for young people comprising of members aged 14–18 years or studying in secondary-school. Interact gives young people the opportunity to participate in fun and meaningful service projects. Along the way, Interactors develop their leadership skills and initiative while meeting new friends. Now, I organize donation drives, visits to orphanages, and community drives that spread awareness on various issues.
I was also the District Interact Representative Nominee for the year 2018 in District 3012 and a Zonal Interact Representative for District 3012 currently which helped me amplify my voice for progress.
My life completely changed when I chose the path of STEM to create a positive impact. It happened when I became the Young Member Of ‘The New York Academy Of Sciences’. It is one of the oldest scientific societies in the United States.
I got selected in three of their STEM programs that include-
•1000 Girls 1000 Futures where I was mentored by Ms.Nicole Bjorklund (Assistant Director, Scientific Affairs at Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation, New York City). 1000 Girls, 1000 Futures is a groundbreaking initiative designed to engage young women interested in STEM and advance their pursuit of STEM careers through mentoring and 21st-century skills development.
•The Junior Academy is a group of problem solvers, an eclectic mix of talented students, STEM experts, and companies around the world dedicated to designing innovative solutions to global challenges.
•At United Technologies Corporation STEM U Programme, I was paired with my mentor Mr.Adebiyi Mabadeje, who was appointed as the Honourable Commissioner, Ministry of Science & Technology, Lagos State. I am also the 2019 Academy Ambassador for The New York Academy Of Sciences (NYAS).
I had my global recognition moment recently when I was honored by NYAS with the ‘Distinguished Student Award’ and was also invited for a Global STEM Alliance Summit which had students from 37 countries.
There, I networked with peers, mentors and professionals from leading companies and universities. It was a great chance to develop cross-cultural communication skills and interact with STEM professionals.
I also had a great interaction with Ms. MiMi Aung from NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory who led the team to do the first-ever flight demonstration at Mars. The number of new ideas and brainstorming blew up my mind. I was also honored to meet Mr. Nick Donofrio (IBM Fellow) and attend the Panel Discussion: ‘Diversity and Inclusion in STEM’ which had speakers like Manager Baffour, CEO and Founder of Getronics Danny Guillory, Head of Diversity and Inclusion at DropBox, Jennifer Breslin, Founder of Futuristas, Jeffery Reid, Vice President, Head of Genome Informatics and Data Engineering at Regeneron and Seema Kumar, Vice President Innovation, Global Health and Science Policy Communication at Johnson & Johnson.
My international experiences have been amazingly channelized to social causes that I support. Today I organize Skype interactions, meet-ups, workshops etc. for students because I believe there is no good if we aren’t able to make the best of our resources for society. As a result, I made a global video campaign on adult literacy. I’ve also delivered talks on propagating leadership amongst women at a Girl Up Club in Romania. I organise discussions with our school psychologist about challenges girls face along with girls across the globe. I got great exposure at an international level through my family of mentors and peers. I am privileged to have a great personal-professional network across the globe and I work to make it accessible for others as well because things discussed and brainstormed at a global level have a totally different experience.
With many more great things coming up each day, I am surprised at the avenues world has opened up for young people. I have always felt that youth has the power to change the world and be the voice. Hence, my 2 cents would be-
“Generation Z doesn’t wait for the future. They build the future”
Inspired by Rida’s stupendous journey? So were we at FamPay. Keep following for more such inspiring stories.