We have all been through our first weeks as college students. We've experienced adjustments like navigating a new campus and environment, coursework, social activities, and student organizations. The same could be said for Yasmeen Quadri, who, during these weeks, also ideated and developed a technology that would be helpful to her, as well as countless others. When asked about something in her life that is unexpected, Quadri said with a smile, "finally feeling the ability to make a lasting impact."
From Cincinnati, Ohio, Quadri is a first-year student at The Ohio State University majoring in neuroscience and minoring in world politics and economics. A Stamps Scholar, she is a member of the Honors & Scholars Eminence Fellows, a program designed to assist and support intellectually and socially engaged citizens who commit themselves, both individually and as a group, to addressing academic and societal challenges, a description which perfectly captures Quadri as a person and student. Quadri eventually hopes to utilize these qualities as a neurosurgeon for Doctors Without Borders, an international humanitarian non-governmental organization.
The Program Manager of the Eminence Fellows, Rebecca Ward, explained that during the first weeks of school, Quadri shared an idea with her along with a three-page proposal, prompting a fellow staff member at the University Honors & Scholars Center to suggest Quadri attend Columbus Startup Weekend. "In just 54 hours, you will experience the highs, lows, fun, and pressure that make up life at a startup. As you learn how to create a real company, you'll meet the very best mentors, investors, cofounders, and sponsors who are ready to help you get started. Your community is here to help you," headlines Techstar's website for Startup Weekend. Techstar's Startup Weekends are powered by Google and work to help people like Quadri make their ideas a reality. "At the last-minute Yasmeen went somewhere she'd never been before in a city she's new to, with people she'd never met, with nothing but an idea," Ward stated with pride.
From 60 pitch ideas, Quadri was one of 15 chosen to expand on their original proposals. A diverse team that signed on to help develop Quadri's product that weekend was instrumental in the progress of her startup. Quadri laughed as she explained that her initial idea was "like a dating app for volunteer services."
Quadri has always loved participating in volunteer work and wanted to continue that at college. Like many people, she realized there are myriad volunteer opportunities, but everyone runs into the problems of finding which organization is best for them, aligns with a cause they're passionate about, and works with their busy schedule. Additionally, it can be challenging for both students and organizations to efficiently keep track of the volunteer hours and verification processes sometimes necessary as students complete volunteer work. That's what motivated her to develop ServUS. ServUS is an app designed to improve the volunteer experience for both volunteers and the organizations who utilize them.
According to Quadri, "ServUS is a mobile app that connects students to philanthropic opportunities in Central Ohio. It is a way for local students looking to volunteer to match their interests with businesses and nonprofit organizations seeking volunteer support. The app contains an interactive interface where students can select their service interests, form a social profile, and be directed to nearby ongoing projects that need volunteers. ServUS also benefits organizations that routinely deal with cumbersome volunteer verification processes in order to certify their volunteers' participation. According to Quadri, "ServUS provides a consolidated network of data that includes certified volunteer hours for participants."
Essentially, ServUS will serve as a portal for both volunteers and service organizations, creating a stronger connection between them and providing a more efficient way to validate a person's service hours, while including new and constantly-improving features for people on all sides of the volunteering experience .
Columbus Startup Weekend included Google executives, professors from Ohio State, and local businesses like Grange Insurance, along with other start-up owners who judged and coached participants. While moving through the weekend's process, Quadri and the team she acquired—a group of individuals "from all walks of life," including other Ohio State students and alumni—made a prototype of the app and ultimately finished in third place and were awarded a consultation with ThompsonHine law firm and admission into Rev1, a Central Ohio start-up studio. Now, Quadri and her growing team can continue working on and developing ServUS, creating networks and establishing a final product.
When asked who her biggest influence is, Quadri mentioned that her mother is someone who continuously supports and inspires her. She even admitted to initially thinking of ServUS while talking with her mom in the Ohio Union parking garage while visiting Ohio State before becoming a Buckeye. ServUS is now a growing project to watch for in app stores. In the meantime, Quadri also recognizes the value of the connections and opportunities that have been given to her as an Honors & Scholars student and is thankful for the foundation that provides as she seeks to make a lasting impact on the community around her.
To join the ServUS team and effort, contact Quadri at Servuscolumbus@gmail.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Audre McDowell, Honors & Scholars Media Team Member