Egyptian Equitech Scholar’s journey of leveraging Data Science for Social Impact

By Anodya Mishra

Maya Fayed is an alumna of the Equitech Scholars Program, 2023, hailing from Egypt. With an undergraduate degree in computer engineering from New York University, Abu Dhabi, Maya possessed a strong foundation in programming languages even before joining Equitech. However, what intrigued her about the program was its emphasis on leveraging data science skills toward positive social impact. During her application process, Maya found the Equitech community to be not just welcoming and supportive but also exceptionally diverse. She remembers attending an interview workshop with Thomas Murray, where she was impressed by the nuanced and thought-provoking questions posed to her. This positive experience further solidified her decision to join the Equitech Scholars Program.

Describing her journey through the program, Maya highlights the transformative nature of the curriculum. She mentions that while she was already proficient in coding, what she gained from Equitech was a deeper understanding of the implications of her technical decisions as well as experience in applying them to real-world problems and datasets. Maya emphasizes that the program focused not only on hard skills but also on how those decisions could impact the products or research being undertaken. This holistic approach, she believes, was instrumental in shaping her perspective.

Equitech Capstone Project

For her capstone project, Maya worked under the mentorship of Bhasi Nair. Her project delved into analyzing the impact of banning affirmative action in the United States college admissions. In 2024, the Supreme Court of the US rejected race-based affirmative action in college admissions - “this meant that race would no longer be considered as a factor for college admissions”, Maya explained. The discourse on how this policy would impact diversity and equity was already prevalent in both academic circles and media from a constitutional perspective, but Maya wanted to assess its long-term impact on employment and upwards social mobility, given that multiple state-level bans had been implemented across the years prior to the supreme court ruling. “I worked on datasets dating to the last 30 years to analyze the impact of affirmative action bans on employment outcomes and income, and how the socioeconomic compositions of different states would affect this impact.”

Product Manager at Noon

Currently, Maya serves as a Product Manager at Noon, a prominent e-commerce marketplace in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region. In her role, she focuses on trust and integrity, overseeing products and technologies related to platform security, fraud detection, content moderation, user policy, and reputational analytics. Maya finds immense satisfaction in her work, particularly relishing the opportunity to leverage data analysis to drive impactful decision-making. She credits both her academic background and her Equitech education for equipping her with the skills necessary to excel in her role at Noon.

Leadership Roles

Maya's journey towards becoming a leader in both academia and professional spheres is also rooted in her proactive engagement during her undergraduate years. As the representative of the engineering department for two consecutive years and chair of the Academic Student Committee, Maya actively championed student interests and concerns. Additionally, her involvement in instructing engineering and programming classes, where she served as head of teaching assistants, allowed her to support and mentor underclass students. “The reason I like taking up leadership roles is because I realize the contributions that a lot of people have had in my personal and professional journey, and I want to give back in the same manner.”

As classes begin for the fourth cohort of the Equitech Scholars Program in 2024, Maya shares her advice for the incoming scholars, “Don’t be afraid of learning new skills and gaining new perspectives. The beauty of the Equitech Scholars Program lies in its diversity of voice - students from across the world and of different disciplines occupy this space - which gives everyone a learning opportunity and platform. Also, don’t miss out on guest lectures during the program because you never know when a speaker will resonate with you and will find your calling!”

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