2013-2014 Luce Scholar

Placement: Asian Women's Leadership University, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Aya Saed was born to Nubian parents in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and subsequently lived in Khartoum and Washington, D.C. Living in such politically charged regions heightened her awareness of global affairs. Embracing the fact that she was part of a lucky few fleeting refugees from the firm grip of a racist Sudanese government has sparked in her the need to create opportunities for those she left behind. This, she hopes to accomplish in two ways: journalism and entrepreneurship in the technology sphere. As a blogger for The Huffington Post and a columnist for the Daily Pennsylvania, writing has become both a hobby and a passion.  Aya uses journalism to give voice to minority communities globally, and challenge community members in hopes of catalyzing progressive political movements. Additionally, she has been at the forefront of business ventures playing instrumental roles in shifting the wealth paradigm. Aya was given the opportunity to explore the potential of technology and business as a means of empowerment in her capacity as a New Business Development intern at Google. As a Google intern, she worked to cultivate a sense of enablement as the people of Egypt and Sudan protested through the Speak2Tweet product. Moreover, her experience at Google complemented her studies in Ghana and the Middle East. As a student at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Ghana, Aya worked on projects that linked technology leaders with educators.  There, she helped to implement a project that equipped every classroom with a laptop and the resources needed to create content for the web. Further, Aya’s commitment to technology and content creation online can be seen in her establishment of a journalism school for Arabs living inside Israel as an Ibrahim Fellow, a program funded by the International Institute of Education. More than anything, these experiences allowed Aya to merge her interest in technology, social innovation and business, something she hopes to pursue as a career. Aya’s passion stems from her adventures abroad and her understanding that marginalized communities abroad have little to no access to the world wide web, and also have much to add in terms of content, opinions and knowledge. While she may not succeed in alleviating poverty for all, she can help to create a virtual democracy wherein which everyone has a chance to speak freely, and profit from the monetary and academic riches of the Internet.

The Asian Women’s Leadership University project is in the process of building a world-class educational institution in Asia dedicated to empowering women and helping them become successful entrepreneurs and engaged leaders. The University seeks to satisfy Asian students’ appetites for a high-quality education similar to that found at American colleges and universities. It will feature a truly diverse campus community, an innovative liberal arts and leadership curriculum and a variety of practical empowerment programs. With students hailing from throughout Asia, the campus community will be invaluably enriched by their different ethnic, religious, cultural, linguistic and socio-economic backgrounds. The University will boast an international faculty and a campus culture with a global focus, bringing in prominent leaders of the global community as guest speakers and hosting international conferences. Leadership and critical thinking classes, along with real-world internship and learning opportunities, will leave students prepared to enter the working world with confidence and marketable skills upon graduation. The graduates of the Asian Women’s Leadership University will have received unparalleled opportunities for international exposure and practical experience, and they will leave prepared for lives of leadership and service.