by Alejandra Leynez Chantres
A year ago, I could not imagine that I would be presenting before a group of policy advocates, educators, and entrepreneurs all gathered to explore the intersection of tech, health, and social impact. Yet, that is where exactly where Julia Chow, Alankrita Dayal, and I had the opportunity to share our idea - one that came after our first year in the Fung Fellowship.
Through one of the in-class design challenges, several Fellows discovered that we shared a common experience and were in strong agreement that current sexual health education is not doing enough to address teen’s concerns about their bodies, nor is it giving them the resources to feel confident in making their own decisions. We saw a gap between what schools taught, what society portrayed, and what parents expected. Therefore, our idea addresses that gap by creating an open and inclusive virtual environment that brings resources and information to young adults.
Reflecting back, I know we got here because of the support of the Fung Fellowship. We spent hours exploring different public health challenges in the community. We learned the building blocks for working in tech and social impact: design thinking, storytelling, and rapid prototyping. Julia, Alankrita, and I spent time on different teams, and we all developed our own set of skills. While our time in the fellowship successfully taught us how to explore and use these concepts, our life experiences motivated us to pursue an idea further.
We were one team of two teams representing our fellowship at Youth+Tech+Health (YTH) Live a conference packed with organizations and individuals from all across the world. Our presentation at the conference received great feedback as people understand it is a necessary tool. It was also very rewarding to share examples, tools, networks, and resources that could also encourage others to take action.
We valued seeing how people in different areas of the world address the same problems in similar ways. Alankrita was also invited for a backstage interview, discussing the impact of our project and the necessity and power of youth-centered health design for communities across the globe. This was an eye-opening experience, and has made us really reflect on our experience in the Fung Fellowship.
If there is something I love about being part of the Fellowship, it’s the connections and people I have met. We are a diverse set of great minds, and we bring our entire selves to the projects that we work on. I am thankful for the program because I may not otherwise know Alankrita, Julia, Marycon Jiro, Mikayla Stroubakis, or Miguel Flores (the other members of our team who did not present at YTH). They are all so intelligent in their areas of study (and so much more), and their passion reflects in their work. I am excited to work with them to find funding to launch our idea this coming semester.
Alankrita Dayal is a Computer Science and Business Administration majors at UC Berkeley. She is the board director for a multi-unit student cooperative housing nearly 300 students and a non-profit founder whose organization empowered middle school girls in tech fields.
Alejandra Leynez Chantres is a first-generation intended public health and intended economics majors at UC Berkeley. She is involved with the Raza Recruitment and Retention Center on campus and wants to have a global career that focuses on closing the gaps of healthcare accessibility.
Julia Chow is a molecular and cell biology major at UC Berkeley. She is currently a researcher in the Endocrinology Laboratory under Professor Tyrone Hayes and an intern at Blue Goji, where she is designing a virtual reality exercise game geared towards youth.