Where Are They Now?

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Tobi Graham, One of the Lenovo Scholar Network Winners from Year One, Talks About College Life and Offers Advice to This Year’s Student Competitors

NAF and Lenovo Scholar Network (LSN) alumnus, Tobi Graham, knows a thing or two about collaboration, perseverance, and achievement, as he continues to implement the values he learned through his educational and professional experiences in his college years. Halfway through his sophomore year at Eastern Connecticut State University, Tobi is majoring in business information systems and is heavily involved on campus as he aspires to make an impact on his classmates and community.

While in high school in 2015 at Pathways Academy of Technology and Design in East Hartford, CT, Tobi and fellow classmate Tiyah Thompson created one of the five winning apps in that year’s Lenovo Scholar Network mobile app development competition. Their ground-breaking app, Savant, eliminated the need for heavy textbooks. This app allowed students to participate in group class discussions, read assigned materials, complete homework, and receive push notifications for upcoming deadlines. Their teamwork, creativity, and legacy continues to be an influence for students everywhere.

Tobi took some time to fill us in on where his journey has led him and offer advice for this year’s student teams.

You graduated from your NAF academy in 2015. What has college life been like for you?

Tobi: Now in my sophomore year, I’ve taken on more leadership responsibilities at college. I serve as a Resident Advisor for my hall of over 65 students and have greatly enjoyed the opportunity to provide guidance and be a mentor. I also am part of several community service based organizations on campus and plan activities and trips for students to meet new people.

You also completed an internship with AT&T [part of the Future Leaders Internship Experience (FLITE) program] last summer in their Rocky Hill, CT, office. What was that experience like?

It was such a great experience and provided a whole new outlook on my career choices. I like the challenges that come with being part of the sales industry and the chance to travel to the different retail stores. I met a lot of people, and the ability to build my network was a highlight.

Did you have any type of presentation or project that went along with your summer internship?

We had the opportunity to present to AT&T’s Board of Directors at the end of the ten week program. We were given a lot of freedom in examining the sales for DirecTV and were able to offer our individual perspectives and insights into the contributing factors and trends we witnessed. Talk about a once in a lifetime occasion!

NAF and the LSN are currently in the kick-off phase of this year’s competitions. What advice can you offer this year’s group of student participants?

My best advice would be to simply get creative and focus on what’s needed that’s not already been created. Don’t be afraid to step outside of the box.

Can you describe the benefits of working in a team?

I learned so much from my partner, Tiyah. She is so smart and innovative. Having a partner is a great way to ensure accountability when it comes to following all of the steps and successfully completing the project.  It was wonderful to have someone to bounce ideas off of and I still think back to all of those great memories!

How has the competition helped you to grow as a person?

I learned to venture beyond my comfort zone and realize all of the big things out there. I was excited for the chance to do something different and cater to the needs of an audience or client base. Now, when I have to do class presentations, I feel confident and prepared, as I draw on my experience from the competition and from networking with business leaders through my academy experience and internships. I’m not afraid to stand out and make a difference. I hope to inspire others to do the same.