From Woodbridge to Stanford to Wall Street

Avika Patel is using her passion for technology to help peers learn to invest.

By the time Avika Patel graduated from Woodbridge High four years ago, she’d already accomplished far more than the typical teen. Founder of the nonprofit #innovate – which offered computer coding, web design and app development skills to middle school girls – Patel also penned two books and was named one of Mars Generation’s 24 Under 24. Off she went to Stanford University to pursue a degree in computer science.

Stanford proved the ideal place to refine her skills. Through a combination of classes, internships and consultancies, Patel worked with several industries and a variety of nonprofits. “Stanford was a playground that allowed me to practice,” says Patel, who served as Stanford’s president of Women in Computer Science.

Never knowing what you’ll find on an academic playground, Patel discovered an interest in finance. This September she’ll begin full-time as a product strategist with a New York financial firm. “I’ll be learning as much as I can from that while hopefully, on the side, consulting with nonprofit startups.”
New York finance shouldn’t intimidate Patel. She already built a fintech app geared toward young investors. Markets are scary when you don’t have much money.

“The app makes the threshold of investing easier because you’re doing it with friends in a social environment,” says Patel, who developed Wallus for class credit. “People scared to invest will be more likely to do it.”

After she graduates from Stanford, Patel plans to take the summer off. A well-deserved break.