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Felicia Ilori
Felicia Ilori

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Exploring Student Engagement, Job Market Dynamics in Open Payment, and Financial Inclusion

Inspired by my experience representing Bowie State University at the Interledger Summit in Costa Rica, where I gained profound insights into the synergy between technology and financial inclusion, particularly in underserved areas, I felt compelled to contribute further to this dynamic ecosystem. This led me to seize the opportunity to apply for the student research scholar program at my college BSU. As a beneficiary of the student research scholar award from Interledger, I had the incredible opportunity to research alongside my professor, Dr. Andrew Mangle. Through some exciting pivots, we explored three captivating topics aimed at enhancing community engagement, advancing financial inclusion, and uncovering career opportunities in Open Payment. Here are the highlights of our research:

Understanding Factors Influencing Student Participation in Extracurricular Activities at Historically Black Colleges and Universities: A Case Study of Open-Source Extracurricular Projects at Bowie State University
My research at Bowie State University (BSU) aimed to uncover why student participation in extracurricular activities is low. We explored the motivations behind student involvement, focusing on factors such as student needs, types, perceived value of activities, and the influence of social media. By conducting over 30 interviews, we discovered very low motivation among students which highlights the need for universities to foster holistic development and better prepare students for the workforce. This research underscores the importance of enhancing student engagement through innovative strategies.

Employment Opportunities in Open-Payment
Our study of job opportunities in the open-payment sector revealed a high demand for experienced professionals, especially in blockchain development and software engineering. We analyzed 54 job listings and found that most positions required specialized skills and industry knowledge. The research also identified various learning resources, including online courses and certifications, that can help individuals acquire the necessary skills. This study emphasizes the need for continuous learning and adaptation in the dynamic open-payment landscape.

The Unbanked and Underbanked in Maryland and DC Environs
During the Amtrakathon, we examined the financial inclusion of unbanked and underbanked populations, focusing on how initiatives like EmpowerU can address their needs. By understanding these populations' specific challenges, EmpowerU can design accessible financial products and prioritize financial literacy education. Here, my task focus was on data collection, unearthing significant insights essential for crafting accessible financial solutions. This led me to the extensive data from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), that highlighted the extent of financial inclusion/exclusion in the DMV areas of the United States, illuminating ripe opportunities for extending financial services as required. Also, this data exploration underscored the pressing need for more comprehensive data collection on emerging challenges, ensuring that our efforts in financial inclusion remain agile and responsive to evolving needs amidst technological advancements. Exploring this area is on our radar for future investigation.


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