Collegian Innovation & Leadership Finalists

CCAT and CTC are proud to honor Connecticut’s most innovative, successful, collegiate students. Each finalist is an undergraduate or graduate student who has demonstrated exceptional academic achievement in the technology, science, or engineering areas of study or who has displayed inventiveness or creativity in said fields.

LEILA DANESHMANDI

Collegian Innovation & Leadership Finalist

Occupation
PhD Candidate
School
UConn School of Engineering
Hometown
Hartford, CT
Passion
Leila is a student entrepreneur passionate about bringing real-life healthcare solutions to those in need.
Bio
Leila is a student entrepreneur, young leader, and aspiring university professor. Her cancer-battling start-up, located in Farmington, was recently awarded the prestigious “Technology-in-Space Prize” for $750k from The International Space Station U.S. National Laboratory partnered with Boeing. Her doctoral studies focus on developing materials that promote bone regeneration. She has over ten academic publications and five patents and serves as a mentor for the next generation of health-tech entrepreneurs.
Download poster (.pdf)
Request a printed poster for your school at woi@ccat.us.

WANJIKU (WAWA) GATHERU

Collegian Innovation & Leadership Winner

Occupation
Undergraduate Student
School
UConn
Hometown
Pomfret Center, CT
Passion
Wanjiku aspires to pursue a public service career empowering community of color in the environmental decision-making process.
Bio
Wanjiku is an environmental justice advocate passionate about creating a more inclusive environmental movement. The proud daughter of Kenyan immigrants, she is a recent graduate from the University of Connecticut. In 2020, she became the first Black person in American history to receive the Truman, Udall and Rhodes Scholarships. At Oxford she aspires to continue her studies at the intersections of critical race theory, environmental policy, and traditional knowledge systems.
Learn more about Wanjiku by watching the video Confronting A Legacy, and Creating Her Own: Meet The First Black Rhodes, Truman, and Udall Scholar by The Root.
Download poster (.pdf)
Request a printed poster for your school at woi@ccat.us.

MAYA GERADI

Collegian Innovation & Leadership Finalist

Occupation
Undergraduate Student
School
Yale University
Hometown
New Haven, CT
Passion
Maya is an aspiring chemical engineer and passionate about growing science outreach for younger students.
Bio
Maya is a rising junior at Yale University. She conducted chemistry research throughout high school and was recognized as a 3-time ISEF finalist and Gerber Medal of Excellence recipient. Maya is currently co-chair judge of the USC category at CSEF. She reports for the SciTech column of the Yale Daily News, is involved in science outreach programs and is a co-founder of Ambrosia, an early-stage nutritionally-tailored platform for promoting healthier eating.
The links provided are done so on an “as-is” basis and for convenience purposes only.  The links are owned and operated by third parties that are not affiliated or endorsed by CCAT, nor are the linked sites under the control of CCAT.  Utilizing a link provided will take you to a third party site that is no longer protected by CCAT’s privacy policy or security practices.  CCAT is not responsible for any content provided on third party websites and we encourage you to read the policies associated with those sites.