FEATURED ALUMNI OF THE MONTH

Adinawa Adjagbodjou

Hometown – Dallas, TX
Undergrad – Harvard College, 2020 BS, Economics and Computer Science
Graduate School – PhD candidate, Carnegie Mellon University, Human Computer Interaction
Greatest Impact – Working to build spaces that uplifted the voices and supported the needs of students of color on her campus, even when that meant demanding and protesting for change on her campus. I had the honor and privilege of serving two terms as the Chair of the Harvard Foundation for Intercultural and Race Relations, the Vice President of the Association of Black Harvard Women (ABHW), and the Co-Chair of the Black Community Leaders (BCL). Additionally, I was involved in the Planning and Programming committee that organized and executed Harvard’s inaugural First Year Residential Experience (FYRE), an orientation program serving First-Generation and Low-Income freshmen in 2018, leading to FYRE successfully moving from a pilot program to an institutionalized full length orientation program.

Adinawa Adjagbodjou was born in Cotonou, Benin and immigrated to the United States with her family, and grew up in Dallas, Texas. She attended Harvard College and graduated with a Bachelors in Economics and Computer Science, and enjoyed taking courses in the African and African American Studies department. During college, she had the opportunity to experience a transformative semester abroad in Paris, France. 

Throughout her academic journey at Harvard, Adinawa took opportunities to think critically about the development of nations such as her own, through the lens of technology, economics, and the rippling effects of colonial political power and oppression. This work and her engagement with the youth in the African community during her time in Paris helped shape her desire for community-focused and -designed solutions. She merged this new direction with her love for Human Centered Computing and Design and its potential for innovative and sustainably impactful change. 

This passion led her to further entangle myself in the world of interactive and user centered design and because of it, she has had the opportunity to research and develop tools that make technology more interactive and equitable. This past year, she had the opportunity to develop QuVis, a novel visualization platform for quantum circuit composition, exploration, and analysis for those being introduced to the world of quantum computing. Furthermore, she had the opportunity to work with peers at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to develop a set of guidelines which can be followed or implemented in industry and academia that places Critical Race Theory at the forefront of AI technology development and deployment.

Adinawa is now continuing her graduate studies in Human-Computer Interaction at Carnegie Mellon University, where she is pursuing a PhD in Computer Science. Her current project focuses on how innovative futures that center the needs of Black people can be created with their involvement and combines community design with local partners and activists. She believes that teaching is one of the best ways to share your passion with any community that you care about; she volunteers in the Digital Literacy Program teaching students Roxbury middle schools computer and coding skills on a weekly basis. This program is a continuation of her commitment to empowering black youth and black women in their pursuit of STEM. In her future work, she hopes to continue her work on understanding how public artificial intelligence algorithms affect the daily lives of marginalized individuals, ranging from health outcomes, to education, and safety and well-being.