[section_title title=Jada Hawkins]
3. Jada Hawkins – Founder of Athena Digital Design
College: Barnard College, USA
Year: Class of 2016
In 2013, Jada learned about a significant problem: not enough women were involved with coding. Being a programmer herself, she led an initiative centered at Barnard College known as Athena Digital Design that provides services for female students to learn programming and similar computing skills. But Athena Digital Design isn’t just a college initiative that teaches students how to code; it is a group that creates websites for external customers. After pioneering a test run with 40 students and 8 clients, Jada helped bring the initiative to a global level by building the website for The Malala Fund, an organization aimed at female empowerment that was inspired by human rights activist Malala Yousafzai. Jada has led the initiative to meetings with high-scale entrepreneurs, including Matt Brimer, the co-founder of General Assembly.
At first, Athena Digital Design was approached professionally, but eventually the atmosphere grew into a personal space that she described as an “academic environment” in an interview. Jada explained that such projects do not come without certain sacrifices. Balancing classes and Athena Digital Design was always a challenge, and more than often the latter came out as the top priority. Had it not been for her mentors and parents, she may have just “went from high school to Draper University to Silicon Valley.” But even with a rigorous schedule at Barnard College, Jada has managed the bring Athena Digital Design from being a small web design firm to a larger, impact driven reality.