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Harvard Students Help Bring First Ever Hackathon to the Vatican

  1.      On a societal level, VHacks is a historic event that bridges the wisdom of immortal institutions with innovators in technology. There are no blueprints – VHacks is the first of its kind. Helping to realize a global-level idea for the first time is a thrilling experience.

  2.      On a personal level, I wanted to make an impact bigger than myself. HBS teaches you the theory of leadership in the classroom, but I wanted to leverage these skills in the real world simultaneously. What better learning experience than applying what you’re learning first-hand while making a positive social impact? What are you excited about achieving through VHacks DURING the event?

  3.      I am thrilled to meet these incredible hackathon participants! I am working with Microsoft to create video essays of select candidates, showcasing their journey before, during, and after VHacks. I am looking forward to sharing the mission of VHacks with the world – an inclusive event for all religions and ethnicities, bringing together students from all over the world to address current global issues. What are you excited about achieving through VHacks AFTER the event?

  4.      I want this hackathon to be the first of many. In today’s globalized world, there will be infinite opportunities to be involved in worldwide issues. I want VHacks to be a conversation starter and awareness driver, inspiring youth to become aware and get involved. I would love for VHacks to incite a call for responsibility in the next generation.Mohib Jafri— Hacking Experience Team, Judging Lead Mohib (Harvard College ’21) is an Electrical Engineering and Computer Science concentrator from Los Angeles, CA. Mohib is a Milken’s Scholar under the Milken Institute and in his spare time enjoys woodworking and 3D printing. What you are doing to help organize the event?

  5.      I’m helping on the internal side of judging: I organize the selection of judges from our wonderful mentors, how they judge our teams, and ultimately, how we decide who wins the hackathon. I will also coordinate the final presentations. What are you excited about achieving through VHacks DURING the event?

  6.      While my job is to make sure the logistics of the conference run smoothly and that hackers have the time of their lives, I’m really excited to meet some of the best technologists in the world. I have so much to learn from being surrounded by such innovative, forward-thinking people. What are you excited about achieving through VHacks AFTER the event?

  7.      What’s cool about VHacks is that the event does not end after March 2018. VHacks begins an important discussion about technology helping the humanitarian sector— a discussion that will far outlive the 36-hour hackathon. I can’t wait to see some of our 24 teams taking their VHacks prototype and applying it to the real world to help real people.Anita Mehrotra, Director of Senior Guest Experiences Anita is a second-year student at Harvard Business School. Prior to HBS, Anita was a data scientist at Accenture's R&D Tech Labs in the Bay, and BuzzFeed in Manhattan, where she built real-time machine learning and AI tools. If you can't find Anita, she's probably at the beach, riding SoulCycle, or eating. Her favorite language is Python and she has a soft spot for shoes. What you are doing to help organize the event?

  8.       As a member of the Partners team, it's my responsibility to bring in panelists and keynote speakers to highlight the role that technology plays in enabling integration, collaboration, and communication across different groups of people.

  9.       I strongly believe that data science and tech play a role in bigger, societal problems: it's motivated my career path so far, and was the main reason why I moved to the east coast. VHacks struck me as a super cool opportunity to be a part of helping to move the needle at that intersection, or at the least, spreading the word about how powerful this idea can be. What are you excited about achieving through VHacks DURING the event?

  10.      The problems that we're posing to the hackers are BIG, and hard. I wish I was hacking! It's the first hackathon that has resonated with me at a personal level, and I think it's pretty incredible that we have such a diverse range of participants and organizers who have come together to work on this. What are you excited about achieving through VHacks AFTER the event?

  11.      Firstly, I'd love for this to be the beginning of many future VHacks. Even more importantly, there's potential for the participants' solutions to turn into something more - a product, a feature, an R&D group... something sustainable. To me, even the possibility of this is thrilling.Vasi Karkantzos, Strategy Director Vasilis is a second year student at Harvard Business School and a former McKinsey consultant. He is a member of the Venture Incubator Program of the Harvard Innovation Lab, has cofounded a start-up and has VC and start-up experience in San Francisco and London. Prior to HBS and McKinsey he was a corporal in the Greek Navy, where he managed multiple soldiers, and a civil engineer in Greece and the United Arab Emirates. What you are doing to help organize the event?

  12.      I am helping identify and partner with prominent tech companies and institutions to (a) gather the required funds to organize and execute the event, (b) recruit top-notch professionals as mentors, speakers and judges for the event.

  13.      I am inspired by the Catholic Church leveraging VHacks to pave the way for other institutions to be forward-looking organizations that leverage technology and innovative approaches to do social good. I believe it is crucial to leverage the funds and power of such institutions to alleviate chronic social problems. What are you excited about achieving through VHacks DURING the event?

  14.      Getting world-class speakers to educate and inspire the teams across the event’s three thematic areas. I’m also excited to see our rockstar student teams get excellent mentoring and guidance to create high impact and high potential ventures. What are you excited about achieving through VHacks AFTER the event?

  15.      Seeing ideas that were born in the hackathon (award-winning or not) slowly transform into ventures, start gaining traction, and achieving social impact. I’m also excited to follow the career paths of our student-participants and the social impact they have. Making VHacks a yearly tradition would be great, as would be promoting similar events to other institutions around the world. The Harbus will be attending the VHacks event that is taking place from March 8 – 11th in the Vatican City. Stay tuned for coverage updates from the event on Instagram and Twitter @theharbushbs, and a behind the scenes piece after the event. Thoughts? We want to hear from you. Get in touch at pippa@harbus.org. More information can be found at VHacks.org, on Instagram and Twitter @VHacks2018 or by contacting media@vhacks.org.

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