Po Tsui, ’19, and Naomi Gregorio, '19
First place—Safe Zone
As the winner was called, Anthony Ramirez, a sophomore from LACES High School, rose in disbelief to his feet. A USC lecture hall filled to capacity—families with young siblings, startup investors from Silicon Valley, media crews, and twenty-nine male high school students from South Central Los Angeles—witnessed as Anthony and his team won $5,000 seed funding for Safe Zone, a start-up mobile application that helps teens connect with doctors and health clinics regarding sexual health with the aim of preventing teen pregnancy and STDs, an issue these inner city youth can personally relate to.
At Teens Exploring Technology, we worked as coaches in the Summer Leadership Coding Academy to teach programming, entrepreneurship, product development, and leadership. Each team pulled all-nighters and struggled throughout the development process as they were constantly dared to break the limits not only of their product, but also of their own personal conviction. With the needs of their community in mind, they designed wireframes, built databases, pitched to investors, and grew to be effective leaders. Whether or not these students' apps will endure the test of time and transform the world, the true products—their transformed selves—certainly will.