My early introduction to technology, courtesy of my father's passion and an exceptional computer science teacher during my school years, combined with elements of fate, led me to pursue Information Technology for my bachelor's degree. In my first year, I noticed a significant gender disparity in technology opportunities. Driven to effect change, I co-founded the Pehia Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to breaking down barriers hindering women's access to technology. Over four impactful years, we facilitated peer learning, hackathons, online support, and coding competitions.
Testimonials of the non-profit's work are my proudest work yet. One notable highlight was being invited to speak at TEDx TKMCE, where I discussed the importance of not allowing traditional social barriers to serve as excuses for inaction. Instead, I emphasized the need to persevere despite these challenges and take proactive steps toward creating a better tomorrow. The impact of our work earned us a nomination for a national TV award for women empowerment - the Asianet Sthree Shakthi Awards under the Technology category in 2016. I was also awarded the prestigious Google WomenTechmakers Scholarship (Now known as the Generation Google Scholarship) in 2019. Since the start of the pandemic, I have shifted my focus to personal goals, moving to a new country and pursuing my master's degree here at The University Of Arizona. I transitioned to a PhD program in the fall of 2023. I am excited to further our understanding of essential problems and drive positive change in the coming years. My journey continues with a commitment to inspire, empower, and make a meaningful impact in the world of technology.
My research interests are twofold. One, I am excited about key problems in Natural Language Processing especially in ambiguity and perspective. Two, I am actively engaged in investigating and addressing the critical challenges in the digital space for equitable access to reliable, high-quality, unbiased information, and the safety of online communities.
What long-term project do you want to work on?
I'm excited about science communication and science policy advising. One of the main goal projects is to create resources that break down the complex world of AI for folks who aren't experts, that be through TikTok/YouTube videos, newspaper columns, or a book. I want to make it easier to understand how it works, the benefits, and what kind of impact it might have. Parallely, I want to actively participate in shaping policies at the intersection of science and society.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
What I find most enjoyable about my work is the opportunity to continually learn and explore new topics. Every day brings a fresh challenge or a chance to delve into a different subject, and that keeps things exciting. The rollercoaster from identifying a problem to a solution that works is exciting. Additionally, being able to contribute to solutions, whether big or small, and knowing that my work can have a positive impact is incredibly fulfilling. Lastly, the collaborative aspect of my work, where I get to engage with a diverse range of people and ideas, adds a social and dynamic dimension to what I do that I truly appreciate.
What are your career goals?
My career aspirations revolve around four key pillars:
(a) Advancing Natural Language Processing/Understanding to enhance human-computer interaction.
(b) Building and nurturing safe, inclusive, and equitable digital communities.
(c) Bridging the gap between computer science advancements and the broader non-expert audience through effective communication.
(d) Contributing to the development and implementation of science policies that align with societal needs and ethical considerations.
Tell us something interesting about yourself!
Recently, I've restarted sharing my grad journey on TikTok and Instagram with the handle @beingenfa, where I connect with a small audience. I also offer 20 minute one on one mentoring call every week. Additionaly , I've got this cool newsletter going out to around 200 awesome folks.