Editor’s note: KCultivators is a lighthearted profile series to highlight people who are meaningfully enriching Kansas City’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. The KCultivator Series is sponsored by WeWork Corrigan Station, a modern twist on Kansas City office space.Awakening education and business potential while in your pajamas is an unexpected side effect of rapid technological advancement, said April Boyd-Noronha.
The STEM thought leader believes virtual reality is the future of teaching Kansas City’s next generation of innovators, she said, noting she plans to be at the forefront of the tech evolution.
But first … the pajamas.
During a recent observance of National Cyber Security Month, Boyd-Noronha — now an assistant professor at the University of St. Mary — joined an international panel on cyber security from home.
“We were just talking to people who were at their desktop, at work or just anywhere,” she said. “One guy joined us from London., I was just in my bedroom in my pj’s.”
It’s about greater access to information, Boyd-Noronha said.
“I could put up a powerpoint slide, a YouTube video. They can be in the bathroom, traveling on the train, flying, anywhere,” she added.
But access isn’t just a technology issue, Boyd-Noronha emphasized. As the STEM Broker, she has written extensively about about diversity in STEM fields, particularly as it relates to young women of color.
Startland News sat down with Boyd-Noronha to learn more about what gets her out of bed in the morning. The KCultivator Series is sponsored by WeWork Corrigan Station, which provides entrepreneurs and businesspeople a community and a workspace.
Hometown: Inner city KC, Missouri-born and raised.
A historical figure you’d like to have coffee with and why?: Ursula Burns (former Xerox exec) and Mellody Hobson Lucas (financial exec). I think, career-wise, they exemplify a trailblazing career path and pioneering journey of leadership that I would want to follow as a woman in STEM.
Weirdest thing you’ve eaten? I love food so much, but I don’t like to venture out much. I stick to my staples.
What is the animal you’d like to be in your next life? I think I’d like to be a butterfly, just because of the metamorphosis stage they go through.
You’re up to bat for the Royals, what’s your walk-up song? “Let’s Get It Started” is blaring in my head. Either that or “Hate on Me” by Jill Scott.
What is KC’s biggest area for improvement? Invigorating the next generation — and authentic engagement with my generation.
What is your favorite food joint in KC? India Palace in Overland Park.
What would you do if you were not in your line of work? Maybe a motivational speaker like Tony Robbins for VR and edtech
What word/phrase do you hate the most? I guess “Why?” Or “I can’t do that.”
What do you hope to be remembered for? That I was the forefront of higher ed initiatives.
What’s your biggest failure?: Not taking enough risks.
You have a time machine and can travel anywhere in the past/ future. Where and when would you go? I would go back to my sophomore year in college in the computer lab at that pivotal point deciding my major. I chose business, no regrets, but had I done computer science, I would be really bad ass.
What’s your favorite travel locale? Puerto Rico, especially remote beaches.
What’s your mantra/motto? Being agile enough to be a catalyst for authentic change.
What keeps you awake at night? Not cultivating an authentic career path for the next generation. Not being disruptive enough to tell the kids to own it.