Damilola Awofisayo is a senior at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Virginia. She started her own hackathon called TecHacks, a nonprofit that describes its mission as "creating a supportive environment for girls everywhere to create, problem-solve and showcase their talents alongside like-minded females to compete and work with." TecHacks hosts one of the largest student hackathons per year reaching over 800 students from more than 60 countries. In addition, TecHacks has been especially successful in increasing the population of women of color in hackathons, as 16 percent of their participants are Black women and 9 percent are Hispanic women; the national averages in 2020 were 0.7 percent and 1.2 percent respectively. Her work with TecHacks has been recognized by a number of media including CheddarTV, Yahoo, Apple Newsroom and Fox. Damilola represents Thomas Jefferson High School as one of Fairfax County's Student Equity Ambassador Leaders (SEAL). In her role as a SEAL, she has helped draft equity-focused policy with Fairfax employees, speaks to staff groups throughout Fairfax County, and has provided input to school system leaders in 2020 on implementing "virtual" school, looking through the lens of equity and fairness for the numerous diverse groups of students and educators in Fairfax County Public Schools. It was through her collaboration with Jefferson's faculty and staff Equity Team that she realized the need for Jefferson’s Student Equity Coalition. Since Damilola co-founded the coalition in 2021, members have engaged in critical conversations on prevalent, potentially divisive issues in the school community, including providing accurate information on the Jefferson admissions process, cross-class interaction on social media, and supporting the various cultural communities. Most recently, the coalition organized a November potluck using the Thanksgiving spirit to foster cultural affinity and a panel of school staff to speak about the Black experience in higher education. Jefferson's Student Equity Coalition serves as a direct link between the school's staff Equity Team, students, and student equity teams across Fairfax County Public Schools.
2022 - WASHINGTON, D.C.