Maya Mboup understands the importance of access to modern information and communication technologies.
Last year, the Ryerson University second-year student established an online portal – Initiative A Plus – designed to facilitate access to technology information and services for young people around the world.
The unique project attracted the attention of the United Nations World Urban Forum organizers who invited the talented Canadian to participate in the World Urban Youth Assembly that preceded the main event last week in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
“I was invited to bring a youth perspective to the conversation surrounding the digital divide and how young people can be active catalysts for change,” said Mboup, who was born in Montreal to Senegalese parents. “It’s really important to be connected these days because if you don’t have access to information online, you are going to have fewer opportunities in life.”
Mboup said the idea to launch Initiative A Plus came while she spent her senior high school year at the International School of Kenya.
“That was an eye-opening experience because I saw first-hand how the lack of access to technology can hinder young people’s progress,” said Mboup, who is enrolled in Ryerson’s Ted Rogers School of Information Technology Management. “It was not just having access to a computer, but (not) having the access to information by not having a computer.”
She said Initiative A Plus will offer mentoring, talent recruitment and consulting services. High school students who wish to study at a college or university in another country are paired with post-secondary students in those places to exchange information and advice. She also added that close to 100 students from Canada, the United States, Kenya, Nigeria and Dubai have signed up for the program.
“I did not have a mentor in Canada when I decided that I wanted to come back here and study,” said Mboup, who left Canada when she was just two months old.
The family moved to Maryland after her father, who has a doctorate, received a job offer in the U.S.
When she is not fully immersed in this global initiative, Mboup mentors younger students enrolled in other business programs at the Ted Rogers School of Management.
“Maya excels at motivating others to set goals for themselves and encourages them to see how small steps can feed into a bigger picture,” said her Academic Link facilitator, Madelyn Steed. “This is what makes her work so meaningful in residence and with her Initiatives A Plus program. It would be an understatement to say this young woman is bound for amazing things. She is already changing the world for the better, both in our local and global community.”
While it’s clear that Mboup is on the right track, she said money will not be a determining factor in her career choice.
“One thing I do know is that my goal is not to find the highest paying job,” she said. “Whatever I do has to be for a purpose. I am a global person and I can well see myself working in Australia or some other far-off country.”