Innovator & Student studying Entrepreneurship
Written & Designed By: Kylie Cameron
Meet Ayonnah Tinsley, a current freshman attending the University of Southern California studying at their Lovine and Young Academy under their Arts, Technology, and the Business of Innovation program. Ayonnah currently works as a Lovine Young Academy’s social media assistant and is also a USC Student Ambassador. When Tinsley travels back to her hometown in Virginia, she works as an educational specialist at the National Air and Space Museum.
The activities that Ayonnah completed in high school consisted mainly of leadership positions through Student Government, National Honor Society, and her high school’s track and field team where she competed in any event between 300 meter hurdles up to the 1600m!
Ayonnah won many awards during her high school career including the University of Virginia’s Jefferson Book Award, the Daughters of the American Revolution Citizenship award, and the Congressional Award Gold Medal. She also earned the Northrop Grumman Community award and an honorable mention towards the SWENext Global Innovator award from the Society of Women Engineers.
One tip that she would like to share with current or upcoming high school students is to “literally try a lot of different clubs and activities! I always tried to switch up what clubs I did and I feel like this helped my college application since I was able to pull from a variety of different experiences to talk about towards my essays. But on that same note, don’t try to overwork yourself in high school because I promise, no matter what, college will definitely get busier.”
One mentor who inspired her to pursue STEM from an early age is actually one of her elementary school teachers, Mrs. Zamora. Mrs. Zamora “was the figure that demonstrated to me that my passion for STEM/STEAM education can really leave an impact on students. She gave me my first STEAM conference to speak at and from there, I’ve been working towards being able to speak at more schools to even publish my own children’s book.”
As for classes, the toughest she took in high school had to be her Advanced Placement physics class” because it “definitely challenged [her] in ways that [she] did not know a high school class could (haha), but this class is also one of the reasons why I am so interested in innovating STEM education. Physics did not make the most sense to me for a majority of the year, but for our final project we had to do a presentation on the physics behind any given activity. I chose triple jump because it was my favorite track event. This whole project made me fully understand so many complex physics concepts, and this very project is actually one of the topics that I talked about in my college supplemental essays.”
Ayonnah major is extremely unique and interesting and she says that it is “essentially an entrepreneurship major but we are expected to be knowledgeable in fields of technology, design, user experience, and business.” Her favorite class that she’s had to take to complete this major is her Innovators Forum class. “This is where every other week professionals from a variety of different industries come to our class to review our pitches for services/products that we only get around a week to make! It can be hectic at times, but it’s also so cool getting to see how everyone works with each other and how our different specialties can work together.” Ayonnah also shared some of the super cool features that comes along with pursuing this major at USC, “I have also had the opportunity to work the laser cutter and 3D printers that are in the building for my major! It’s awesome learning about how different the laser cutter reacts to different materials so I really have to be careful with the settings to make sure that my projects turn out perfectly. And for the 3D printer, I actually designed my own shoe shelf using Fusion 360 so that this shelf can hold the spikes in my track spikes a lot better.” If you would like to hear more about her unique major or hear any tips she has on the process, she recently made a YouTube video, which can be viewed here!
In college, Ayonnah participates in the USC chapter of the Society of Women Engineers. Through this amazing organization, Ayonnah is “about to fly out with USC SWE to New Mexico for the Society of Women Engineers conference and I am extremely excited for all of the sessions that will be happening and connections that I will be making here. My goal going into this conference is to think about a way to help younger students receive more exposure to STEM/STEAM education in a personalized learning style.”
The biggest tip of advice she would like to share with all current and upcoming college students is to “really appreciate your alone time and only do activities that you truly want to do/feels right to you.”
Along with being a college student Ayonnah still manages to make time for side projects, the latest being “developing a product to submit to the Loreal Brandstorm Challenge. I am really excited for what my team and I have come up with, and no matter what happens I am so honored that I was able to think outside the box in terms of hair and makeup products with two of my good friends.”
✨Ayonnah Tinsley proves to be a powerhouse woman in STEAM and we cannot wait to see what the future holds for her!✨
✨To learn more about Ayonnah, you can connect with her on: