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Ekene Okoye

Institution/Organization: Philander Smith College

Department: Computer Science

Academic Status: Undergraduate Student

What conference theme areas are you interested in:

Adaptive control, optimal control, and estimator design;
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) for science and engineering;
Emerging software infrastructure for CSE, sustainability of numerical software;
Model and dimensionality reduction

Interests:

My academic interest entails the field of Data Science. I aspire towards becoming a Data Scientist and applying Data Science concepts towards improving living standards across the world. I am currently an active member of my school’s Technological Sciences Institute – an institute that has afforded me a platform to not only voice my opinions regarding developments in the field of Data Science but also provided access to numerous learning opportunities.

Non-Work Related Activities/Interests:

As a science teacher in rural Nigeria, I mentored young children during the summer to help promote learning outside a typical academic environment. In understanding their everyday struggles, I realized the huge impact the lack of access to a proper upbringing as a result of financial constraints was having on their education. It became apparent to me that quality education was not just in the teaching of concepts and acquiring of knowledge, but it required a holistic grasp of the needs of the classroom body. Transferring this view to my community, I resolved that my mark in technology would be to help low-income families and children gain access to disruptive technologies that create job opportunities that empower them to make behavioral changes that improve their quality of life. After landing a scholarship to study mathematics and biology at Philander Smith College, I felt closer to achieving my goal and I became determined to pursue a degree in Computer Science. As someone who sought a means to stay connected to my plight, I was excited to be appointed as the Student Coordinator for the Social Justice Fellowship on Campus. This fellowship provided a dynamic space to channel my power into what I consider as my prophetic vocation. I found a platform where I could learn more about economic, educational, and technological disparities among low income communities and minority groups in not only the developing world but also in the developed world. Studying in America has availed me to many opportunities that I would not have imagined a year ago. I have been able to implement a project through the Global Youth Initiative Project (GYIP) called “Employ a Youth, Foster a Dream” that promotes awareness about unemployment across the world and empowers youths in Nigeria with means of sustaining themselves and their families through income generating projects. As I keep working on this project, I continue to seek exposure to communities with similar structures as those in Nigeria. Volunteering for underserved populations in Little Rock has given me access to a community that mirrors the rural community in Nigeria. I have had the opportunity to interact with homeless individuals, drug addicts, and even convicted felons. One factor I’ve found present in most of the stories I’ve heard is unemployment. As a huge proponent of global integration, I believe that when different ethnic groups bring ideas together they have the ability to pass on wisdom to help each other learn and modify. Just as I have brought instances of my Nigerian experience to the United States, I would love to take instances of my American experience back to Nigeria . My dream is to grow my current project into a non-profit organization that serves low income communities in numerous capacities particularly in education and employment. I work for all those youths, for those channeling their energy into earning their livelihoods honestly (and even those who aren’t), and those children who cherish “what is” instead of mourning “what could be”.