The Laurel Award recognizes exceptional personal achievement by rewarding one young woman with a full scholarship to attend Quarter Zero’s 2020 Catapult Incubator.

The Laurel Award will be provided as a scholarship to a female candidate who shows exceptional promise in the areas of leadership and entrepreneurship.

Laurel Award applicants should exhibit exemplary leadership, curiosity, and ingenuity in one or more ways: academics, team projects, community work, and creative work. Applicants should also demonstrate a commitment to women and girls through personal mentorship and community involvement.

Laurel Award Winner

Yamilett Estrada-Reyes

Yamilett is a rising junior from Chicago, Illinois and a fierce advocate for greater inclusivity in STEM. Driven by an unquenchable curiosity and intrinsic passion for social good, she leverages the intersection between computer science and entrepreneurship in order to inflict real and meaningful change within her community. Her passion for CS + entrepreneurship drove her to launch her own student-run high school accelerator program, Protostar, in late 2019. In their first inaugural year, they have managed to impact 60+ students throughout the Chicagoland area and partner up with numerous renowned incubator spaces, such as 2112 and 1871. Outside of Protostar, she leads CS workshops at local middle schools, organizes hackathons, and is heavily involved in all-female or all-Latinx CS communities as an NCWIT Awardee, Stanford SHE++ Fellow, GirlCon organizer, and Techqueria member. During her free time, she likes to workout at her local boxing gym, explore local coffee shops, and attend hackathons with her friends. Through her experiences, she hopes to close the gender and racial gap in STEM and inspire Latinas and other first-generation Americans, like herself, to pursue careers in STEM.

Laurel Award Runners-Up

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Fatoumata Soumare

Fatoumata is a current senior at the Thacher School in California, but she was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. Her parents are from Mali, a country in West Africa, and she is the oldest of three children. She plans to enroll at Yale next fall, majoring in Public Health and Public Policy. Her passions at school mainly include work in diversity, equity, and inclusion with her involvement in the Black Student Union, her podcast titled “Boarding While Black” and the Student Diversity Council. She loves to travel, ride equestrian and go to the beach. One day, she hopes to become a successful social entrepreneur.

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Elizabeth Shvarts

Elizabeth Shvarts is a sophomore at Staten Island Technical High School in Staten Island, NY. She is the co-founder of the non-profit Bridge to Literacy and has spoken at the UN as a part of International Girls and Women in Science Day. Additionally, she is passionate about writing and her work has been recognized by the 2 Scholastic Art and Writing Silver Keys, GENIUS Olympiad, an international high school project competition about environmental issues, and Climate Speaks, a youth arts program where she and fellow finalists performed spoken word poetry about the climate crisis at the Apollo Theater. In her spare time, she enjoys fencing, reading and musical theatre.

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Jina Jiang

Jina is a 16-year-old junior attending Oak Ridge High School. Her passion for the field of business, specifically entrepreneurship sprang from attending TN Governor’s School of Business last summer. Shortly after, she started FBLA and DECA at her school and received her Microsoft Office Certification in Word, Powerpoint, Excel, and Access. Aside from her passion, she also loves to play instruments and learn languages. But most of all, she loves to explore and try new things.

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Dariana Lopez-Durazo

Dariana Lopez-Durazo is a high school freshman at Ocean View Christian Academy in San Diego, CA. She is skilled in academics with a special interest in STEM. She loves participating in sports and seeks leadership opportunities in bringing science interest at school extracurricular activities. Dariana is a member of the FIRST Lego League Robotics Club and is the founder of the FIRST Robotics Competition Club at her school. She is honored to be given this opportunity as a Laurel Award Runner-Up, and that, after all her hard work, she is able to “show the world that diligent effort and trusting yourself pays off.”

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Yara Samad

Yara is the founder of The Amal Foundation, Designpreneurz, Atelier Yara, and DREW. She is passionate about design, entrepreneurship, engineering, acting, and singing/songwriting. She recently started The Amal Foundation, which is now open for recruitment. The purpose of the foundation is to educate kids internationally in under-resourced/ impoverished communities about coding, STEM, design, and entrepreneurship. They are partnered with many organizations, such as the Board of Education of Lebanon, Code For Tomorrow, a Startup Launchpad founded by a Forbes 30 Under 30 winner, and more!

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Molly Hillman

Molly is a young entrepreneur from New Zealand who is passionate about social enterprise and international business. She is the founder of Second Step, a charity based in New Zealand that collects pre-loved school shoes from private schools then donates these to students who need them. Molly is very grateful to have been chosen as the runner up to the Laurel Award.

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