Jada-Ashley HawkinsMajor:Computer Science with a Concentration in Innovation and a Minor in Women and Leadership Studies (Athena Scholar)Year:SeniorHometown:New Orleans, LouisianaHow’s senior year going?Senior year is challenging, because I already have a job, so I’m just really looking forward to the next chapter of my life. Only 6 more months and 20 days left!What are you plans for the rest of the year?Apart from enjoying my senior year with my friends, and having an amazing spring break in Cabo, not really!Can you tell me about your Athena Project?Oh, haha. I am currently starting a company that advocates for the legalization of industrial hemp farming through social entrepreneurship, because by legalizing this crop we can easily benefit our ecosystem and our economy.Is this your first entrepreneurial endeavor?No, not at all. This is the fourth company I’ve founded. The first I started as a learning experience then dissolved it when I started the Athena Digital Design Agency, a web development agency that educates Barnard women in code and then pays them for their abilities. I was also on the founding team of a social enterprise that educates underrepresented groups in coding. I stepped out of that role to start my company that is focused on hemp legalization.Any favorite startups?I really value humanity when it comes to startups, specifically tech startups. While I love social media, I never understood why Snapchat was created. Now it is a platform for advertising, but it originally started as a place for young children to send nudey pics. Honestly if the brightest minds in Silicon Valley and Silicon Alley put their minds to solving the world’s toughest problems, I cannot even imagine what amazing things we could create.Do you have an entrepreneurial idol?Elizabeth Holmes. Girl is a goddess. One of the few self made female billionaires of our time who still owns more than 51% of her company. Literally bow down.
Advice for Budding Entrepreneurs?Just start. Don’t think about when, how, etc. Just jump into it. If you wait, you’ll never get there and you’ll regret it. Also, find a mentor. Someone who has done it already, so you can ask them a thousand and one questions. I have too many mentors to count, but they all truly care about me and my success. That is what is truly important.What do you look forward to after graduation?Europe! I studied abroad in Aix-en-Provence last semester, and I am very ready to return. I’m hoping to spend a month their before starting my job in July.