RHoK scholarship: Why Malveeka Tewari plans to change the world

If you recall, our recent blog post announcing this scholarship invited female university students — who were able to attend the December 4-5, 2010, Random Hacks of Kindness event in person — to submit a 250-word essay describing why they want to change the world. The scholarship was a response to the challenge that women constitute 20% of all participants at the upcoming annual RHoK event.

The winning essay is by Malveeka Tewari, a Computer Science graduate student at the University of California, San Diego. We feature Malveeka's essay at the end of this post. Meanwhile, here's a short interview with Malveeka, who tells us she will be attending the RHoK event in Chicago.


Malveeka Tewari, prizewinner of Yahoo!'s 20% Challenge response to RHoK December 2010 eventmalveeka_tewari2

What would you like folks to know about you?

I am a second-year graduate student in Computer Science from UCSD. I am working in the area of data centers and (really!) large scale networks. I am passionate about technology, good code, and good food. I strongly believe that in modern Internet-driven society, software engineers can play a very important role by helping to build a strong software infrastructure for technologies that can reach out in all parts of the world across geographic and cultural boundaries.

I also am a big Calvin and Hobbes fan.

What got you interested in computer science?

I got interested in Computer Science during my undergrad. I love coding and building software. The thing that I like most about Computer Science is the excitement that it holds, the exponential pace at which teechnology improves and changes. There is always something new that you can learn about. I just find the pace and the rhythm in CS very compelling.

How did you learn of the Yahoo! Developer Network scholarship?

I had met Avni Khatri and Natalia Vinnik from Yahoo during the Sahana codeathon at Grace Hopper Conference this year. Natalia and I had worked together on some of the bugs and submitted a patch together. A few days back, Avni had sent out a post on devchix (which is a group of women software engineers, hackers, and coders) mentioning the RHoK challenge and also the Yahoo scholarship. That's how I came to know of YDN scholarship for the RHoK challenge.

Then Natalia mailed me as well, insisting that I apply. And I am really glad that I took her advice and applied. I wasn't really expecting to win the scholarship — I was really looking forward to the event and now I can be there. I am very confident that the women engineers would win the challenge hands down! There are also a lot of interesting project ideas that have been proposed for RHoK that I am looking forward to.

What YDN technologies do you find most useful?

I am a big fan of the YUI library and have played around with it for a couple of course projects — and just for fun as well. Of course, I use Y!Mail and am a member of a number of Yahoo! groups. I have also worked with Hadoop products (Map Reduce, HBase, and Hive). These may not be YDN technologies strictly but I know they are supported by Yahoo!

Why I Want to Change the World, by Malveeka Tewari

We humans have come a long way in terms of scientific growth and innovation. Unfortunately, it’s only the developed nations that truly benefit from these technological advancements. While I celebrate the comforts of modern lifestyle, there are nations, struggling to feed its people and provide the basic health facilities. Time and again, nature has shown us its superiority over us. The recent earthquake in Haiti is an example where our efforts fell short. Had we built technology for better disaster management beforehand we could've helped more lives. There is something lacking that stops us from feeling safe and protected.

And this is why I want to change the world. I want to ensure the future generations a safe world with equal opportunity and consider this my social responsibility. Ensuring education for all children, providing food and health care to all, making the planet green, protecting wild-life, coping up with the natural disasters, valuing human lives — these are only few of the mammoth challenges facing us. Our incentives for innovation should no longer be economical alone but also social.

I am a graduate student in the CS department in UCSD and I have always hoped that my education will help me in building tools that will have social outreach — tools that will benefit others across any boundaries.

RHoK is indeed a perfect opportunity for this. I really am looking forward to this scholarship by Yahoo! which will help me make my contribution to the cause for humanity.