We are pleased to introduce our Young Person of the Month for June 2016, Alisha Fredriksson from Sweden and Canada. Alisha, 21 years, is the founder of Seema Circle, an artisan training program for women, which developed into a social enterprise and later into an inaugural project of the UWC Project-Based Diploma, an alternative high school program for motivated students. She is a WISE Learner’s Voice Fellow 2016, a Hive Global Leader 2016, a Finalist for Canada’s Top 20 Under 20 in 2014, and a Three Dot Dash Global Teen Leader 2014. Alisha is driven by the pursuit of potential and the intersection of entrepreneurship, education, and design.
Read her story below and be inspired.
Alisha, 21 years, is an entrepreneur, education advocate and designer. She was always a curious child. Born in Hungary to a Swedish father and Chinese mother, she grew up appreciating diverse lifestyles and the ability to quickly adapt. At age six, she began tinkering with beading and business, parading around her neighborhood with a basket of fresh jewelry.
As her skills and designs quickly progressed, she created an online boutique named Brite Jewelry to sell her sparkly creations. Most of her time, however, was devoted to rhythmic gymnastics.
She spent nearly every day after school practicing and perfecting her intricate routines. As a senior national-level gymnast, she competed frequently around Canada and ranked as British Columbia’s Provincial Champion for six consecutive years.
While studying in Vancouver at Prince of Wales Mini School (an enriched public high school program), Alisha became one of five Canadians to receive a generous scholarship for the Students on Ice Youth Antarctic Expedition. For two weeks, she sailed around the Antarctic Peninsula with a team of 90 students, scientists, and polar ambassadors to study climate change and experience education in its essence: as a catalyst for curiosity and creative problem solving.
Back at home, Alisha missed having penguins as professors and the world as a classroom. She scoured the web for another adventure and found her way to the Mahindra United World College of India, a two-year residential college with over 200 bright students from 60+ countries. At UWC, she studied the International Baccalaureate Diploma and learned primarily from the people around her. From courtyard conversations with peers to bumpy bus rides across the country, UWC was about awareness and exploration – of herself, others, and the rapidly changing world around her.
In an attempt to sidestep her international school bubble, Alisha connected with a local nonprofit named Akshara and began sharing her love for jewelry making with some of the women from nearby villages. Word quickly spread and more women joined her jewelry group as a means to develop new skills, connect with a community, and generate income and independence. Soon enough, over 50 women from 11 villages had joined the artisan training program, which Alisha named Seema Circle, after her roommate. Seema developed into a social enterprise and later into an inaugural project of the UWC Project-Based Diploma, an alternative high school program for motivated students.
By chance, an alternative university visited the campus in rural India. The school was brand new, with no students or classrooms but with intriguing potential to reimagine higher education. The Minerva Schools at KGI offers a uniquely immersive, rigorous, and student-centric experience in seven of the world’s greatest cities. Alisha was fortunate to join 27 other students in Minerva’s Founding Class, the most selective undergraduate program in the United States.
In September 2014, the class moved into the first residence hall in San Francisco and worked closely with renowned faculty and staff to design student life and build the components of an innovative institution from the ground up. As part of the Founding Class program, Alisha is currently on a gap year, during which time she is developing Seema Circle and happily interning at the K12 Lab Network at Stanford’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (the d.school). She is excited to rejoin her classmates this fall to continue her immersive education and to play with new projects and approaches to increasingly complex problems.
Her Final Words for You(th):
“I would encourage youth to lead with intention, curiosity, and humility. There is so much you can learn from everyone around you. Practice asking good questions – of yourself and of those you meet and focus on lessons learnt over accolades earned. Remember that there is a wealth of opportunities out there, but that you can create your own opportunities as well! Start a new project, ask another question, and surround yourself with people who will challenge and inspire you.”
Who will be the Next Young Person of the Month?
You can be the next Opportunity Desk Young Person of the Month! All you have to do is get a friend to recommend your work or fill out the nomination form here. We want to use the platform to recognize and celebrate the efforts of amazing young people around the world. O! And you must be an active Opportunity Desk member, either as a fan, reader or subscriber!