2022 Annual Review

Alisha Arora
10 min readJan 2, 2023

As I begin to write this annual letter and look back on the year 2022, I am overwhelmed with gratitude. Gratitude for the amazing experiences, people and learnings I have had this year. I feel lucky to be able to say that this year has been the most transformative year of my life. These transformations have improved me as a person, provided me with direction, and helped me to gain a greater understanding of myself.

Highlights of the year:

  • Launching the Child Rights Strategy with Prince Harry
  • Mental Health Advocacy + working on my model to detect suicidal ideation!
  • Being recognized as Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women
  • Working on stem cell fertility research over the summer!
  • Spreading hope through the HopeSisters
  • Launching and working on the Council of Europe Child Rights Digital Strategy
  • Travelling to Dubai and judging the 2022 Smart Toy AI Awards
  • Interning at Procter and Gamble

Launching the Global Child Digital Rights Strategy with Prince Harry

One of the highlights of my year was definitely launching the Global Children’s Digital Rights Strategy with Prince Harry. The 5 Rights Foundation launched a strategy for the digital rights of children, and I was fortunate enough to contribute to the AI section and launch the strategy on a panel with Prince Harry. It was such an amazing experience to be a part of such an important initiative and to work alongside Prince Harry on something that I am so passionate about. The Global Children’s Digital Rights Strategy is an important step towards protecting the rights of children in the digital world.

Mental Health Advocacy + working on my model to detect suicidal ideation!

In 2021, I started working on an AI model to detect suicidal ideation in social media content in order to support those struggling with suicidal thoughts. While progress this year has been challenging as I have worked on building and growing out this model, I made it a priority to focus on the intervention aspect of the model. Together with researchers at the University of Ireland, I have been developing an intervention for when someone is detected as suicidal on a social media platform, with the goal of helping them reconsider their decision. While progress this year has been slow due to working with an international team, I believe that it will set the foundation for more progress in 2023. Moving forward, I hope to continue beta-testing, work on patenting, continue my conversations with social media companies, and ultimately implement this model in order to save lives.

Being recognized as Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women

It was a true honour to be recognized as one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women, and to be the youngest recipient in the Science and Technology division was especially exciting. The award ceremony and gala were truly memorable experiences, and it was an incredible feeling to celebrate alongside so many amazing women leaders from across Canada. It was truly an amazing experience to be able to share in this moment with such inspiring and accomplished individuals. It was a true privilege to be recognized in this way and I am grateful for the opportunity to have been a part of such a special event.

Spreading Hope through the HopeSisters

This year, our non-profit organization, The HopeSisters, has accomplished a lot of meaningful projects. We made HopeBags for children in Ukraine, partnered with Staples Canada to send HopeMail to 1000 households in Mississauga, ran a HopeBuddy initiative where student volunteers talked to seniors at a retirement home on a weekly basis, and raised $1000 for Tim Hortons Camps to send underprivileged kids to camp. These are all great accomplishments and it is clear that our small actions have made a big impact. We are proud of the work that we and our team have done, and it is clear that our partners and HopeSpreaders have played a significant role in making it all possible. It is wonderful to see how our organization is making a positive difference in the world.

Working on fertility research 👩‍🔬

Last year, I had the opportunity to work on a truly groundbreaking “moonshot” project to turn stem cells into eggs and sperm. This project really sparked my interest in the fertility industry and the potential for technology to revolutionize the way we think about reproduction. I became fascinated by the idea of using stem cells to create eggs and sperm, and the potential to help couples who might otherwise be unable to have children due to fertility issues or other challenges. This year, I spent my summer researching with a clinic in Toronto and working on a proposal about how stem cells can be developed into eggs and sperm cells using in vitro maturation (IVM) and gene editing technologies. I learned so much during this time and was able to work with some of the leading experts in the field. I was struck by the complexity of the process and the many challenges that must be overcome in order to successfully turn stem cells into eggs and sperm. But I was also inspired by the potential impact that this technology could have on the fertility industry and on couples who are trying to start a family.

I am so excited to be able to contribute to this field and to work towards the goal of giving more couples the opportunity to have a family. I believe that the incorporation of technology in the fertility industry has the potential to transform the way we think about reproduction and to help many more people realize their dreams of becoming parents. It is a truly exciting time to be involved in this field and I am grateful for the opportunity to be a part of it.

Launching and working on the Council of Europe Child Rights Digital Strategy

In April, I had the opportunity to travel to Italy to launch the Council of Europe’s Child Rights Strategy. As a youth representative, I was able to participate in the intervention on the ways in which artificial intelligence can both positively and negatively impact young people. I was involved in the development of the policies for this strategy, and had the privilege of meeting with the Prime Minister of Italy and ministers from across Europe to work on and launch this important initiative. This experience was truly influential in protecting the rights of youth online, and it was an honour to be a part of such a meaningful project. The opportunity to work with such influential figures in the promotion of child rights was truly inspiring, and I am grateful to have had the chance to contribute to this important cause.

Travelling to Dubai and judging the 2022 Smart Toy AI Awards

As a youth representative in the World Economic Forum’s AI Youth Council, I had the exciting opportunity to serve as the youth judge at the Smart Toy Awards held in Dubai. This event brought together leading toy companies from around the world to showcase their innovative products that incorporate AI technology. As the youth judge, it was my responsibility to evaluate these toys based on how responsibly and ethically they incorporated AI into their designs. It was an incredible opportunity to be able to play a role in shaping the future of AI in the toy industry and to see firsthand the potential for technology to enhance play and learning. It was an unforgettable experience and I am grateful for the opportunity to have been a part of it.

The Smart Toy Awards in Dubai was a collaboration between the Dubai Future Foundation, the World Economic Forum, and Will.i.am. It was an honour to be able to work with such prestigious organizations and individuals on this important event. As the youth judge, I was able to work closely with the Minister of AI for the United Arab Emirates, who was also a member of the judging panel. It was an incredible opportunity to learn from and engage with leading experts in the field of AI and to have the opportunity to contribute my own perspective as a youth representative. Overall, the Smart Toy Awards was a truly memorable and enriching experience, and I am grateful for the opportunity to have been a part of it.

Interning at Procter and Gamble

In February of this year, I completed my internship at Procter and Gamble, where I interned as their youngest ever intern in their Female Care division working on the Always You app. This experience was truly transformative for me, as I learned so much about the corporate world and had the opportunity to put my software skills to work. Over the course of the three months, I developed an idea to incorporate personalized health into the period tracking app, Always You, and also consulted with GenZ to make the app more tailored to what young people would like. This internship was a fantastic opportunity for me to grow both personally and professionally, and I am so grateful to have had the chance to work with such an incredible company.

Here’s the video I shared with P&G Canada employee’s at their monthly town hall!

Making health a priority

This year I really got to find a balance with work and my personal health. I had reached my fitness goals beyond my imagination, I made it a habit to work out 4–5 a week and even found a love for running. Reflecting on the year, some of my happiest moments were running with my favourite music playing and challenging my bodies limits! I also loved going for walks with my family and my favourite dog cooper.

Mentally, this year has had it’s up and downs but overall I have been at peace. I dealt with lots of anxiety during the school year when it came to writing tests or having panic attacks when deadlines approached. However, I learned to find ways to help myself calm down and cope during those moments. Overall, right now I am at peace and have learned to focus on what’s in my control!

Side projects!

  • Consulting for Shell and creating a recommendation deck to reduce 93 tons of emissions annually
  • Attending the Gairdner Award Gala (Awarding researchers for their breakthrough research) and having lunch with one of the winners!
  • Contributing as a member of the World Economic Forum’s AI Youth Council where I get to collaborate with youth leaders around the world about responsible AI
  • Joining Thorn (Company founded by Ashton Kutcher tackling sexual exploitation) as a youth advisor!

Learnings over the year

I’ve learned a lot about myself over the year that I want to share through some of the reflections I have written over the year:

People are our greatest asset — Reflection from Italy

Journal 04/11/2022

“It’s currently 10:25 Portugal time 11:25 Rome time and 5:25 Toronto time. This week has been far from hectic it’s been exhilarating, surreal and tiring all at the same time. Sitting in the plane right now and thinking about the past week, the only feeling that comes to my mind is gratitude. Gratitude for all the people I spent this week with, my parents for raising a curious, excited and passionate daughter, my sister for being the whole reason I’ve gotten to where I am, Sylvie for giving me the most insane and awesome opportunity of my whole life and all the female politicians and role models like Ms. Buric who fill me with hope on the impact I can make.

There is so much I don’t know — Reflection from completing my internship at P&G

Journal 02/10/2022

“Coming into P&G I realized how much I don’t know, from understanding the corporate world to technical frameworks to even selling an idea to a team of high level executives. I realized I have so much yet to learn, but that’s okay, because I also have lots of time! You’re doing something right when you are the dumbest person in the room because you are going to be uncomfortable and you only grow in discomfort. For me, this is just the beginning of my journey, I hope that there are so many opportunities for me to learn and grow. P&G definitely showed me how much more I have to learn.”

It’s so important to be in a room where I feel stimulated intellectually — Reflection from Dubai

Journal 11/20/2022

“I have never felt more intellectually stimulated in my life. The level of expertise and passion in that room was truly inspiring. My fellow judges and I spent hours discussing some of the most pressing problems facing our world today and brainstorming potential solutions. It was a reminder of how much we can accomplish when we come together and collaborate towards a common goal.I left the conference feeling energized and motivated to continue working towards positive social change.”

That’s all for my 2022! I am really excited to see what 2023 brings, although my priorities will be school and university applications, I hope I can make time to continue to work on projects that bring me purpose. Thank you to those who made this year brighter and I look forward to the many more experiences 2023 brings ❤️