by Abby Thompson
June 16, 2023
Gloria Mariwa is a high school student from Kenya. A Rise finalist, she joined us in 2022 to study the course Do Robots Dream of Electric Sheep, a survey of the social impacts of artificial intelligence (AI). Taught by our founder Dr. Abhilash Mishra, the name of this course takes inspiration from the sci-fi novel by Philip K. Dick.
Rise is a Schmidt Futures and Rhodes Trust initiative that finds promising young people and provides opportunities for life as they work to serve others. Gloria was one of the 500 finalists selected from across the globe and received the opportunity to study a course of her choosing as part of this program. She chose Equitech Futures.
“I’m the tech person in my family. Be it helping fix the television or the remote or a phone, people would always come to me. I was also the go-to person at school when it came to tech. This is how I got involved in tech,” Gloria says.
From a very young age, Gloria was fascinated with technology and even won awards in school in this field. The mundane but humble spreadsheets in Microsoft Excel caught her eye early on. When asked about her time studying at Equitech Futures, she shared, “One of my biggest takeaways was how algorithms are made. I didn’t know much about Artificial Intelligence (AI), but during the course I learned the basics of the AI processing system.”
Gloria says she was particularly interested by the technology of Tesla cars and how the cameras positioned all over the body of the car could help identify other cars and environmental obstacles, even on a cloudy day. “I’d never thought of this before. This example opened my mind to the possibilities. It was brand new to me, and I loved it!”
She also appreciated the personal assistance of our faculty members, Thomas Murray and Abhilash Mishra. “Thomas really helped me with my presentation skills. Most of the material was new to me, like how to make a good first impression during a presentation.” Most of all, Gloria loved the Equitech community for their curiosity and thirst for learning.
Currently, Gloria is finishing up her high school exams in math, physics, chemistry, and computer science. Apart from her coursework, she is also passionate about learning new languages, studying space, stargazing, and learning about different cultures. An active athlete and TikTok user, Gloria has been creating content about women’s football since April 2021. The majority of Gloria’s content consists of soccer drills, freestyling, and tutorials.
“In the Rise Finalist course, we talked about how the TikTok algorithm works, how hashtags reach specific audiences, and how the algorithms differ from one platform to another. For example, TikTok focuses on what time you post and how long your audience spends watching it. The hashtags don’t matter as much. Meanwhile, Instagram focuses on the importance of hashtags more than the timing of your post. TikTok also suggests content with similar interests to yours, and there are new viewers all the time. The ‘For you’ page on TikTok exposes you to new people and new audiences, unlike Instagram.”
As part of the community for African women in sports, Gloria created a project called 14thgunner which focuses on women’s sports and supporting female athletes.
“The more games that happen, the more revenue that clubs get, and this leads to more investment in female athletes’ equipment. Another issue that I focus on is the fact that most 'unisex' products cater to males. They are just male shoes that are smaller for female feet, which commonly leads to injuries among female athletes. On my platform, I also try to raise awareness about the abusive power dynamics in the sports community, especially for female athletes. The unjust treatment of players has led to protests and resignations among my national team. With the Women’s World Cup coming up this summer, there is already lots of content to post about.”
Adding to Gloria’s accolades, she was recently selected for a summer program, Kode with Klossy, which focuses on data science, web development, AI, and machine learning. Moreover, she has recently been accepted to The Knowledge Society, a 10 month science-based cohort. In addition, she was the team captain for the FIRST Lego League qualifiers in Kenya, and her team placed 4th place overall.
After high school, Gloria hopes to attend Stanford University and eventually work on the engineering of sports equipment. When asked about advice she has for the future generation, Gloria says, “Everything happens for a reason. If you make yourself 1% better every day, either with a big action or a small one, it will make for remarkable results. We have to enjoy life and enjoy the small things and always be grateful, because there is always something to chase.”
Anodya Mishra contributed to this article.