Aditya Vishwanath Stanford University PhD Student (Learning Sciences & Technology Design - Education) and Knight-Hennessy Scholar

aditya-vishwanathI graduated from Georgia Tech in 2018 with a degree in Computer Science and I always knew that I wanted to make a meaningful difference to the education system not just in India but around the world. My mother is a teacher back in Chennai and I was always inspired by the incredible care and effort shown by all my teachers in my life, and deeply pained by the systemic challenges facing teachers and education systems of the world. I was drawn to research and I was ready to jump into a PhD at the intersection of education and technology. I chose to pursue my graduate education at Stanford, and specifically Knight-Hennessy, because of the interdisciplinary of expertise, experiences, and perspectives available in this university. While I get to go deep into my area of research in the lab at the School of Education, I develop the breadth and broader context by the Knight-Hennessy leadership and mentorship programming, spending time with my cohort, and participating in a range of experiences across campus.

The Knight-Hennessy experience has been transformational. I am humbled everyday by my mentors and friends and I have found lifelong friends in my peers who come from all over the world and study across all Stanford departments. They keep me grounded and constantly inspire me to do more. During my two years at Stanford, I've gone on multiple hikes around the Stanford hills with my friends, executed successful fruit-picking lab meetings with my advisor, Dr. Roy Pea, tried my hand at some golf, and sharpened my speaking and writing skills through workshops and weekend educational retreats. I enjoy running - and I regularly do the loop around campus, or the Dish, or Lake Lagunita. I also practice yoga every day and when I first got here, I was thrilled to learn that Stanford had its own dedicated meditation center, which is a space I try to visit for a few minutes nearly every day.

My research looks at designing education technologies that are accessible to even the most marginalized and underserved communities around the globe. I take a human-centered approach with a focus on designing technologies that facilitate universal access to engaging learning content. I am very grateful to my advisor, my graduate program, and my mentors who have given me the space to pursue entrepreneurial ventures alongside my academic research. With some of my colleagues from my undergraduate program, I co-founded a VR-education company here in the Bay Area, and I also helped start a non-profit makerspace and lab in India. My goal has always been to come back to India as soon as possible and be a part of education system that I grew up in. I am grateful that I have found the space at Stanford to sow seeds for this future today.

I love to cook, especially cook south Indian food that used to be a weekend staple for me throughout my early years - and I understand I have introduced many of my non-Indian friends to the wonders of sambar and rasam in the last few months. I'm very grateful for the incredible privilege I have of being a Knight-Hennessy scholar and Stanford PhD student, and I look forward to giving back my time and energy to the people and communities that brought me here and constantly inspire me to be a better version of myself every day.

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