Cognitive Science student has been named Forbes Under 30 Scholar

UAB rising junior has been named a 2019 Forbes Under 30 Scholar and recognized at the Forbes Under 30 Summit.

Forbes2Zahrah AbdulraufZahrah Abdulrauf, a junior completing an individually designed major in cognitive science with minors in economics and media studies in the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s College of Arts and Sciences Honors College, has been named one of Forbes Under 30 Scholars.

Addulrauf is attending the Forbes Under 30 Summit  this week, where young leaders, founders, and creators are gathered in one place to experience industry-focused excursions and speakers in 20 different content tracks — from artificial intelligence, finance, law, policy, innovation, and more.

“Going to the Forbes Under 30 Summit will allow me to hear from the most creative leaders across a multitude of different industries, and allow me to network with other like-minded attendees,” said Abdulrauf.

Abdulrauf, a native of Tuscaloosa, Alabama says that several of her peers from other institutions initially reached out to inform her about the program.

“Although it seemed like the program was only open to students that applied from institutions that were partnered with Forbes, I still really wanted to see if I’d be able to attend,” Abdulrauf said. “I reached out to the Forbes’ program coordinator directly. They sent me the link to apply online, and I was accepted a few weeks later.”

Abdulrauf says that UAB and the City of Birmingham provided a wonderful foundation for her to be able to explore her interests in innovation, entrepreneurship, economic development, and workforce development.

“I participated in the inaugural cohort of UAB’s Commercialization Accelerator in Spring 2018 — the first semester that I arrived on campus,” she said. “During the program, I joined Fledging, a student-founded tech company currently running out of Innovation Depot. There, I learned about UAB’s cohort of University Innovation Fellows. In addition to working at Fledging, my experiences with UIF have been particularly enriching and taught me that if you have a vision, persistence, and a plan, you can make institutional change — even if you’re a student.”

Through Univeristy Innovation Fellows, Abdulrauf was able to connect with Jackie Alexander from UAB Student Media and lay the foundation on for a fourth branch of the UAB Department of Student Media, a new student-run creative services agency that will be launching Spring 2020.

“The Commercialization Accelerator also linked me to Lydia Dick, a Venture for America Fellow working in the Harbert Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. She had the idea to create the Women in Entrepreneurship Society on campus,” said Abdulrauf. “Through WE, I was able to create the Women in Entrepreneurship Fellowship. It aims to connect undergraduate women with ideas for entrepreneurial projects with mentors in the community that can give them the guidance and support they need to achieve their goals.”

Abdulrauf says her ultimate goal is to revolutionize the way individuals and communities learn, work and develop — namely by helping to nurture entrepreneurial ecosystems and facilitate the development of the talent necessary to help local economies flourish. She wants to start with the creation of UAB-based talent development programs such as the Women in Entrepreneurship Fellowship, her UIF project, and the new UAB Creative Services Agency launching under the UAB Department of Student Media.