As a small child of five, Dr. Hayat Sindi sat in her mother's rocking chair, with her cat, Ginger, and she thought long and hard about scholars she admired and how she wanted to give back to the world. She dreamed of studying science at a top university in order to make a difference in the world. As a teen, she gained her parents' permission to travel alone to England to pursue her education in science. Her journey was a courageous act not only for Hayat, but also for her family, a traditional Muslim family in Saudi Arabia, whose support of her dream challenged conventional thinking.
While Hayat had been a top student in Saudi Arabia, she spoke no English and was rejected by all of the Universities she applied to. She spent one year learning English and relearning all of her subjects in English in order to take the admission exams at several Universities. After all of her hard work, she was accepted everywhere."Education will allow you to do anything you want to do in the world" Hayat Sindi's father told her as a young girl in Makkah, Saudi Arabia.
Hayat has proven this wisdom again and again, often proving well-meaning, but cautious advisers wrong. In 2008, Hayat and her team entered their business concept for a low tech diagnostic tool in the Harvard Professional Enterprise Competition in the same year as the MIT 100k Competition and won both competitions -- the first time in the history of these prestigious competitions that the awards went to the same team, and also the first time a non-profit business won the MIT award.
"Science is a universal language," said Hayat. "It cannot be isolated. It is a beautiful language in which gender, race, religion all disappear. When scientists are in a lab, we have an amazing time as we try to discover who we are and why things are -- how could the way you look or your gender matter in place like that?"
Through her i2 Institute for Imagination and Ingenuity
, Hayat is realizing her vision "to make the dreams of youth come true through innovation." said Hayat. She wants the Institute, familiarly called "i2" to teach young scientists and innovators that, "you as a human being matter, and your dream can be realized. The Institute gives you the vehicle and the means to see your invention in a company that is helping society by solving social problems."
Dr. Hayat Sindi was just appointed as an international ambassador of Vital Voices
on April 11, 2012. The Global Partnership Vital Voices Organization, is an NGO established in 1997 and based in Washington DC and founded by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright after the Fourth United Nations Conference on Women's Rights. In this role, Hayat will travel the world to train and empower women to unleash their leadership skills to help develop knowledge, science, and prosperity in the world
If you would like get involved in Hayat's work at i2 as a partner, innovator, or investor, read on
. To hear Hayat's inspiring story, listen to the recording of Kate's interview with Hayat