Kayara Yasa

6/2/2020 4:05:42 PM

Kayara Yasa is the 2021 recipient of the Andrea J. Culumber Award. She is a Material Science and Engineering student who anticipates graduating in 2023.

As a member of the Grainger Engineering community, Kayara has been involved in numerous academic and scholastic activities. She started getting involved her freshman year, participating in organizations like the Society of Women Engineers, Engineering Freshman Council, Engineering Student Alumni Ambassadors, Materials Advantage, and Engineering Open House as an exhibitor. She has also interned at P&G for the past two summers.

Kayara has since put much of her focus toward becoming an entrepreneur and non-profit development.

She has been developing a rapid, low-cost, highly scalable COVID-19 diagnostic technology as the first employee of an early stage biotechnology company. She also develops go-to-market strategies, conducts financial analyses for fundingrounds, and runs market analyses to further the company’s value proposition.

Kayara is also the co-founder and Director of Growth & Strategy for the non-profit DesignLab Give, which she describes as the Khan Academy of a girl’s basic human needs. DLG provides basic sewing tutorials to girls and women around the world, projects such as feminine care pads to underwear, bibs to diaper bags, out of regular materials. Seventy percent of the tutorials are made of a single, secondhand t-shirt. Kayara estimates that DLG has potential to impact the 500 million girls who cannot properly manage their periods at this moment in time.

In keeping with her goal of being an entrepreneur, Kayara is on the interim founding team of a consumer-packaged goods company out of Silicon Valley developing sustainable wet wipes, beginning prototypes as of this month and small scale manufacturing by the end of Q2 2021.

She is also the co-founder of an eCommerce platform that is in the process of applying to accelerator programs.

Kayara was happy to be recognized for her efforts in and out of the classroom, and sees this award as a symbol of the college’s support and commitment to entrepreneurial efforts.

“It is always wonderful to know that my own university supports my efforts in and outside the classroom. The award demonstrates UIUC's continued dedication to its students and its students' accomplishments.” 

She hopes to continue her entrepreneurial work for decades to come and found many more companies with clear social purposes.