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DAO Student Kierra: Making a Difference in the Lives of Others


Davidson Academy Online senior Kierra Wang recently had the incredible honor of being named a 2023 Rise Global Winner, an initiative by Schmidt Futures (co-founded by Eric Schmidt, the former CEO of Google) and Rhodes Trust (the charity that funds Rhodes scholarship, the world’s oldest and arguably one of the most prestigious graduate scholarships).

Kierra provided some background on her honor:

What are some past and present projects you’ve worked on to help make a positive difference in the lives of others?

Some past and present projects I’ve worked on are:

  • “Big Ben” is an education website that teaches financial literacy to kids
  • “Storiology” is a website that encourages kid volunteers to read to hospitalized kids to promote mental health and equal access to education
  • “REMEDY” is an AI dermatologist in your pocket: a checkup anytime, anywhere, for anyone – Best High School Project and Winner of the Sponsored UCSC Genomics Institute Category at CruzHacks, 2022
  • Student Visionaries of the Year Candidate, 2023
    • Fundraised nearly $20k with a composed team of fellow high-schoolers for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society; met with sponsors, secured donors, hosted events, etc.
    • Currently an ambassador for other Student Visionaries of the Year Candidates
  • Church Student Band Leader, 2018-Present
    • Play keyboard and/or sing weekly; additional leadership obligations, e.g. volunteering or coaching other band members
  • Founded Cadmium, which teaches computer science to local students
    • Supervise the teachers; teach 2-hr biweekly classes in HTML, CSS, and JS; manage outreach (social media); host free boot camps for greater accessibility
  • DAO Competitive Speech & Debate Team Mentor
    • Mentors 5 students for various speech & debate formats, from Congress to Informative Speaking to Public Forum
  • Founder & President, Davidson Incubator
    • Members learn applicable business strategies and in-depth knowledge on product creation, from drawings to 3D models to a prototype. I help members make a 5-year business plan. Provide members w/ opportunities to compete in 3+ prominent entrepreneurship competitions
  • Vice-President, Philosophy Club
    • Co-lead club discussions and post announcements of weekly “Philosophical Ponderings” and/or reading recommendations

Can you share what first motivated you to apply to Rise?

I was motivated to apply to Rise as part of my competition year. Each year since my sophomore year of high school, I’ve led a competitive business club (whether at my previous school or at DAO). As part of my work as the Davidson Incubator President, I look for and compete in various entrepreneurship competitions! I found Rise last year in this search and applied accordingly.

What are some challenges you encountered along the way?

In terms of development for Daybreak, my team overcame many obstacles and created a successfully-working first prototype, as well as coded the website and app connecting to said device. The prototype went through many different iterations, to maximize effectiveness, limit manufacturing price, and improve wearability. I had never done 3D designing up to this point, but enjoyed learning how to do it for the sake of designing and prototyping. None of us had done hardware before, so it was a learning experience for sure.

I learned a lot through this process. From software to hardware, from UI/UX to 3D designing, I definitely developed a number of current skills and worked on developing new ones. If I could have done anything differently, I would have liked to use a 3D printer to create the actual intended design. At the moment, while the Daybreak wearable works, it certainly doesn’t look as pretty as the 2D and 3D design intended.

Do you have advice for other young people in invoke change in their communities?

Just start! It’s always intimidating to start a project, but the only way to actually get any traction is to be purposeful with your intentions. Set a plan, start researching, put aside time, etc. Any first step is a great, even if it’s a little one. And in fact, there are so many ways to invoke change in your community, whether that looks like creating a project or starting an organization or joining an existing volunteering opportunity.

What are some of your short-term and long-term plans?

My short-term plan is to further education myself through higher education so that I can best understand how to give back in the future. Throughout my experiences, I’ve realized that my tech solutions hovered on two specific problems: education and healthcare inequalities. My long-term plans will be to continue finding targeted, technological solutions for marginalized issues within these fields.

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