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In lieu of a twin

I love using Open Minds to profile remarkable people whose achievements can’t help but enthrall us all. Often they’re people with backgrounds or characteristics that mean they’re wrongly overlooked, or certainly not nurtured to their full potential.

Not so, the incredible 9-year old twins, Peter and Paula Imafidon, who are the youngest children in the highest-achieving family in the history of Great Britain’s education system. They made history as the youngest students ever to enter high school and astounded veteran experts of academia when they became the youngest ever to pass the University of Cambridge’s advanced mathematics exam.

With a set of older super-gifted siblings in the Imafidon family too, it’s not surprising they’ve been asked if they share a ‘genius gene’. “Not so”, came the reply of Chris Imafidon, the children’s father. He credits his children’s success to the UK’s Excellence in Education program for disadvantaged inner city children.

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Inclusion and Diversity Best Practice: How Diversity Powers Innovation

We read a lot about how diversity powers innovation but the other day I was on a call where I saw this with my own eyes. Cisco’s Global Inclusion and Diversity team have introduced monthly meetings for their Ambassadors called “Diverse Conversations” whereby they take a very real I&D topic and encourage the group to discuss. Read More »

Disability and Technical Expertise from Cisco interns

December 2, 2011 at 7:51 am PST

“When I first got here, the [intern] orientation was talking about all business stuff…supply chain..and I’m a computer science major, and I was thinking, uh-oh, I’m in the wrong place.” Kelley Duran said as we settled down to talk about her internship here at Cisco.  Her classmate Samuel Sandoval had the same reaction: Honestly, I thought I was in [the] wrong group since I’m in IT [information technology]”

Internships are a great way for students to make the connection between their studies and the business world.  Combining education with practical application through internships means an easier transition into the workforce after college.  Even better is when education and personal expertise are both channeled into the right internship.

Kelley and Samuel are studying Computer Science and Information Technology respectively at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) at the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York. I sat down with Kelley, Samuel and their Cisco mentor Shraddha Chaplot to get their thoughts on how to create a successful internship program for college students with hearing disabilities.


Samuel Sandoval, Shraddha Chaplot and Kelley Duran spell Cisco in American Sign Language at Cisco Headquarters

Internship Projects

Samuel and Kelley interned for 11 weeks in Cisco’s Software Engineering Accessibility team.  The Cisco Accessibility team is focused on ensuring Cisco products are accessible and usable by people with disabilities, whether by design or through compatible use with assistive technology.

Samuel worked as a lead developer for real time text chat on the Read More »

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The Year in Retrospect–Perspective of a New Hire

It seems like only a year ago when I stepped in the Cisco office as a new hire fresh out of college. Oh wait, it was just a year ago when all this happened. Time flies when work is never dull and learning seems never-ending. I can go on and on about all the lessons I learned, awesome projects I got to witness and work on, the supportive team I work with, etcetera etcetera. Instead of writing a 365-page book documenting my adventures at Cisco (a page a day is an underestimation by the way), I’ll summarize the top three things I learned at Cisco.

1. Don’t be afraid to make your ideas heard:
I don’t know about you, but when I first started, approaching a colleague, manager, or director with a new idea seemed more intimidating than jumping off an airplane 5,000 feet above the ground in a sky diving lesson. Mind you, I have a serious case of acrophobia (read: fear of heights). When you’re new, everyone else is more senior than you, has more experience under the belt, knows more about the ins and outs of Cisco, and need I say more? The idea of bringing a new idea to the table seems almost ridiculous.

“Someone must have come up with the idea before.”
“What if they say no?”
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R.E.S.P.E.C.T

All I am asking

Is a little respect…

On Valentine’s Day 1967, as the Vietnam War was consuming news headlines worldwide, and the civil rights and women’s movements were mobilizing across the States, a young African-American woman entered Atlantic Records and opened a piano

What happened next forged its way into contemporary musical history, making a worldwide star of its protagonist.

Aretha Franklin was just 25 when she exploded onto the music scene. The song was Respect.

I’ll bet that, whatever  your age, wherever  you are from, within seconds of hearing the opening bars of this song, your feet will be tapping in recognition, your fingers drumming on your laptop.

Respect is one of those enduringly popular anthems:  the potency of Franklin’s voice, the rhythm, melody, and the universality of a message that seem to withstand the march of time. Forty years later, this song still has the power to stir emotion wherever, whenever.

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