Q: How do you think you’ve grown as a person through the BUILD experience?
Aury: Maturity is one thing that BUILD skyrocketed for me. There are a lot of experiences that BUILD offers their students — the pitch meetings, the business environment that you’re placed in, or the different opportunities when it comes to your career path. Those are things not everybody gets to experience. I want my brother and sister who are 13 and 17 to join a BUILD program, so they can have the same experiences that I did.
BUILD also showed me the importance of discipline and time management. There is also the general experience of being exposed to different career paths and seeing the options out there. Some of the seminars I attended influenced me to become a design student in college, and now that I’m here, I can follow my career path in many directions — opportunities such as automotive, prosthetics, toy making, or anything else. Those seminars allowed me to broaden my understanding of what I want to do with my career.
Thinking back, it’s the number one experience I’ve ever gone through. It will teach you so much as a person — how life really works, how to run a business, how to work with people, how to manage your own time, how to build yourself to a point where you don’t need anybody else to do what you want to do in your life. But at the same time, you are still able to work in a group and meet people and make people smile. That’s really what it is for me. Everything BUILD has taught me, has given me the skills to make other people smile. And, that’s what I want for my life.
Q: What advice do you have for student entrepreneurs?
Aury: This may sound a little rude, but in design school, they say, “Kill your darlings.” Basically, do not become over-infatuated with one idea where it limits you from creating an even better idea in the future. Overall, keep an open mind as you continue to work towards your goals.
Q: What inspired you to join BUILD’s Youth Advisory Panel (YAP) after graduating high school?
Aury: It was a program recommended to me by a mentor, and because the message of it spoke to me, I decided to join. The YAP, which was developed and funded through a joint partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is trying to show its students and the rest of the country how we can incorporate our identities into the education system. Being a minority at a predominantly white school, I want to be able to show the next generation that we are represented well in the education system, especially in mathematics.
Recently, we partnered with a math-based company to survey learners to help us define what a mathematics program could look like for a student and how we can improve the program. Coming from a New York City public school, I give a lot of respect and props to all of my teachers who helped raise me, but there are many resources that aren’t given to them and students fall behind. I want my experiences and everything I know now to help students in the future to have resources that I didn’t. It’s an honor to hopefully have an impact on what education will look like in the next five, 10, or 20 years.
Q: What do you think the future of education should or will look like?
Aury: In one word: diversity. I think we’ll come to a point where every person’s education is distributed in a way that best fits the student’s needs and how they learn the most effectively. We could tailor classwork to students who have particular interests. I hope in the near future, education will include every single student’s needs and interests into the education they’re experiencing.