Overcoming Hearing Deficit, UCLA Computer Science Student

Natalia Luzuriaga is familiar with firsthand the electricity of technological innovation to make people’s life much better acquiring overcome her personal encounters with partial hearing decline.

“I was often taught to aid other people out,” claimed the fourth-year computer system science scholar at the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering and receiver of the 2022 Levi James Knight, Jr. Scholarship. “I locate a lot of fulfillment in being able to assistance people today and information them on the path of turning into who they want to be.”

This mentality has been with Luzuriaga at any time considering the fact that she was a boy or girl, and helped her to earn the scholarship that was established by Evalyn Knight, whose partner, Levi Knight, Jr., labored at UCLA for additional than two decades. The scholarship was developed to acknowledge remarkable college students from across all of UCLA Samueli’s engineering disciplines. 

When Luzuriaga was in 1st grade, she failed a check for the very first time. But it wasn’t a exam for which she could review. It was a listening to exam.

Luzuriaga was taken by shock when she was diagnosed with delicate-moderate hearing reduction and assumed originally that it should have been a oversight. Soon after all, she was capable to hear people converse just great, apart from when they’d whisper. She was subsequently fitted for listening to aids, which served her listen to issues evidently for the to start with time, but it also created her sense insecure and self-acutely aware in the starting. 

“It was something that I didn’t want persons to know about I would always preserve my hair down and never ever place it up in a ponytail,” she stated. “But I informed my mates about it, and they were being like, ‘Oh, this is so awesome! Can I see it?’ Which is when I recognized it’s not a thing to be ashamed of, but it’s actually a definitely cool component of my id.”

Having expert how technological know-how can be leveraged to increase her day-to-day life, Luzuriaga designed her first app throughout a hackathon although she was in large university. Influenced by her peers who experienced substantially a lot more critical hearing reduction, Luzuriaga produced an application referred to as “sPeach” so that her friends and other folks could follow announcing text accurately with out relying on the support of a speech therapist. The application employs speech recognition engineering to allow direct person suggestions by using smartphones so it allows create independence and self confidence.

“That was the first app I built that was not for entertainment needs. I created game titles before that, but this was an actual app that people could use, and they could truly profit from,” Luzuriaga claimed.

“That was the very first app I developed that was not for leisure purposes. I constructed games prior to that, but this was an real app that people today could use, and they could basically reward from,” Luzuriaga stated. “So that’s when I understood what ever I made the decision to get the job done on in the long run, I want to make certain that it really aids men and women in some way.”

Luzuriaga’s passion for developing new tech did not end there. When it arrived time for college or university, the East Coast native wanted a modify in surroundings, and a position buzzing with promising up-and-coming tech discoveries. What improved area than Southern California and UCLA! 

“It’s just a great university. It has lots of energetic pupil organizations undertaking quite impactful do the job, which I knew I wanted to be a part of,” she explained. She chose to main in laptop science not simply because of a motivation to operate for well-founded major tech providers but for the reason that of the skillsets she can master and translate into new tech to support make people’s life less complicated.

Expanding up in a close-knit family members, Luzuriaga reported the transition to the West Coastline tradition and surroundings wasn’t quick at to start with. And just as she started to sense much more at dwelling after her freshman year, the pandemic hit. As remote finding out took result at UCLA, Luzuriaga observed herself with no an internship or job. But she and her pals ended up itching to perform on one thing new. So, they enrolled in Bruin Labs, a 10-week accelerator system set on by Bruin Business people that teaches individuals how to develop their personal get started-ups.

Luzuriaga and her buddies made Hussle, a freelance market mobile application that supports college or university pupils in commencing and running their have tiny enterprises of selling merchandise or featuring providers to other individuals on campus. The app was released in April and presently has far more than 200 buyers.

“Stay accurate to on your own make absolutely sure you actually imagine about what you want to do in daily life and focus on businesses that align
with the sort of function you want to be accomplishing,” Luzuriaga explained.

“We noticed that there are individuals on campus chopping hair, there are persons on campus undertaking manicures, but the only way you can come across them is by means of phrase of mouth or Instagram,” Luzuriaga said. “So we preferred to make a system all UCLA students are on and that will make it possible for persons to develop their smaller enterprises by currently being equipped to achieve their target viewers.”

With the assist of the scholarship, Luzuriaga mentioned she is grateful to have some additional time to commit to extracurricular functions. She is a portion of Nova — Tech for Superior, a college student firm that aims to develop technical alternatives for nonprofits in the LA spot and over and above. Luzuriaga serves as a venture direct for developing a mobile app called “iiDecide,” which is an iOS chatting app that connects victims of sexual assault so that they can speak about their experiences in a safe and cozy house. “The mission and how impactful it will be for that neighborhood is surely a thing that actually resonates with me, and it also aligns with my values of why I made the decision to go into laptop science in the 1st place,” she explained.

Luzuriaga also belongs to Sigma Eta Pi, an entrepreneurship fraternity on campus, by which she gets to meet like-minded persons who are into entrepreneurship and the startup and enterprise money place. She served on the Society of Women of all ages Engineers’ advocacy committee that hosts situations to encourage gals engineers to advocate for them selves. Getting volunteered to train coding lessons in superior college, she has hosted workshops for exploretech.la, an annual event in which large school college students arrive to UCLA to discover how to code and explore tech. 

When she initially arrived to UCLA, Luzuriaga mentioned she felt a good deal of tension to go into large tech, which is what she saw numerous of her friends accomplishing. But pursuing her passions for entrepreneurship taught her that there are many distinct methods to discover achievements as a application engineer and that it’s Okay to not abide by conventional paths.

As a result of it all, Luzuriaga credits everything she has achieved so much to the robust operate ethic she figured out from her mothers and fathers and encourages other college students to not be fearful of putting in added work to achieve their aims.

“Stay true to on your own make absolutely sure you seriously feel about what you want to do in life and concentrate on providers that align with the style of do the job you want to be doing,” she claimed. “And then from there, you can develop your own route that you are wanting forward to, and you’re making the everyday living that you want to have.” 

Her next piece of suggestions? “Work really hard and in no way undervalue by yourself,” she mentioned. “I’m not naturally smart and struggled a large amount with my academics, specially computer science. But when you feel in by yourself, you are going to be astonished with what you are capable of and can accomplish.”

Sara Hubbard contributed to this tale.

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