Alumni Spotlight is where you get to meet our wonderful Astra S.T.E.A.M. Alumni. In the past three years, we were lucky to have influenced over 80 young girls who are aspired to become young entrepreneurs in the STEAM fields. Each year, these young girls would work in teams to come up with New Venture App ideas during a two-day Astra S.T.E.A.M. Summit. At the end of the Summit, they would pitch their ideas in front of a panel of judges.
Through this experience, we want to encourage young girls to develop their interests in STEAM subjects as well as entrepreneurship, and to empower them to become the next generation of female scientists and women entrepreneurs.
In today’s Alumni Spotlight, we would like to introduce you to our 2016 STEAMer – Daniela Shuman!
Tell us a little about yourself:
My name is Daniela Shuman and I am from Kirkland, WA. I am in tenth grade at Tesla STEM High School. My STEAM focus is in the sciences, and I am striving to do research in astrophysics, using my computer science skills. My most enjoyable activity is to learn, which is why I want to become a scientist. There are no boundaries to how much you can learn in science, which makes me so excited to pursue it! My main hobbies are to learn and to read; I can sit and read a textbook for hours! I also like to code and to play piano.
How did you first hear about the Astra STEAM Program?
My school district sent out a newsletter on Peachjar with all the events going on in the area. I learned about the event through a flyer and decided to apply because of the interesting opportunity to meet entrepreneurs and to design an app idea.
I attended the Astra STEAM summit recently in early November of 2016. I am so glad that I went because it was an amazing experience! I met many new students around the district and have stayed in contact with them. I have learned so much in regards to finance that I feel much more enlightened. My experience could be described as exciting, as I was constantly talking with my mentor or other teammates to finish the presentation in time.
What was your team’s business and App idea?
My team created and pitched an app that listed jobs, internships, events and volunteer opportunities in the community. Our profit came from event hosts who want to advertise to many people. We thought of our final idea because we knew there were many things going on in the community that we would want to participate in, but found out too late. We did have a brainstorming session before the summit where we defined a list of problems we could potentially solve, and narrowed down our choices together. Then we individually thought of our own ideas and came in the first day of the summit to discuss and finalize our choice.
What was your best memory from the Astra STEAM Summit?
My best memory was sitting with my mentor and trying to develop a plan for our marketing and our finance. We had to do many calculations and had to research many values to develop how much we should spend on advertisement and what our gross margin should be. From this, we could calculate more accurate values for investment and advertisement costs. This was such a great experience because doing math excites me and it was something that I wasn’t ever introduced to, so I got to learn how to do real finance! If I could do this summit again, I would start earlier. I feel we spent a lot of time finalizing our idea, which we could have done outside the summit.
What were your takeaways from the Astra STEAM Summit?
Before the summit, I had no concept of how much money was worth, all I knew was that a sandwich costs $5 and I didn’t even know why. After the Astra STEAM Summit, I can understand gross margin and gross profit and therefore calculate the cost of each product. I can create a reasonable estimate for how much investment money is needed to start a business. I can find out what is needed in a community and what would sell. This was my first real introduction to marketing and finance, which has expanded my opportunities so much more! I now feel way more comfortable in business situations and am even considering becoming an entrepreneur in the area of teaching or research.
What is your dream career?
I want to become an astrophysicist and hopefully work for NASA or SpaceX to send people to Mars! When I have already had a careers worth of research and space missions, I plan to become a teacher and share what I have learned to students so they also can grow up wanting to learn more as well. It’s a cycle that I want to support. To achieve this, I have been taking engineering classes, computer science classes, astronomy classes and physics classes. But working as a researcher isn’t all school, so I have been participating in application based competitions from engineering such as TSA Engineering Design, which I won 2nd in state for, as well as coding competitions, such as TEALS competition this December. I have also been volunteering on several occasions as a tutor and teacher to spread the knowledge, such as Math Tutoring to Middle School Students, Pacific Science Center Discovery Corps Employee, Code Purple Robotics Teaching to Elementary Students, STEM Reach, and Darrington Water Testing with Elementary and Middle School Students. Additionally, I do research on the side from news articles, textbooks and documentaries so I can maximize my knowledge.
Do you have a role model?
Bill Nye is probably my most prominent role model because of his constant fight for the right things! He has always been pro-education, pro-environment, pro-science, but it’s what he does with those beliefs that make me look up to him! He created an entire TV series dedicated to not only teaching science, but getting kids interested in science! He also continues to fight against climate change which is the biggest issue our generation must face and we need more people making environmentally friendly choices. And Bill Nye also is an independent kind of person, that is still cooperative. He has worked with several different corporations such as National Geographic, but still makes his own TV shows and researches things himself. I strive to be a positive influence of children and to support education, the environment and science.
If you have one advice for the new STEAMers, what would it be and why?
I say not to focus on the details of what the app will do, but more of how you can sell it. “It is not what you are selling, but how you package it.” Also, to make sure that your finance plan is detailed and illustrates a dynamic plan over time. I would assign more than one person to finance and marketing because it is such an important part of the app.
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