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Meet a CIPA Student: Elaha Mahboob ’19

Hi, I’m Elaha Mahboob. I spent my childhood in Iran as an immigrant and returned to my native country of Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban. I pursued my undergraduate degree in computer science in Afghanistan, and was one of a very few women enrolled in this male-dominated program. While at university, I recognized the transformative nature of computer programming, and what a great equalizer software development can be.

Thus, in my second year of university, I co-founded Afghan Citadel Software Company with my sister Roya, the first female-owned IT business. Later on, my sister and I decided to provide access to technology for girls in schools by creating IT centers and holding digital literacy and financial literacy programs for them, in order to help them improve their lives.

My experiences and passion for bringing a change in my society, particularly in terms of empowering

Elaha teaching IT to girls in Afghanistan
Teaching girls IT in Afghanistan

women and giving them access to education and technology, made me determined to pursue an MPA degree and to focus my studies on Science, Technology, and Infrastructure Policy. Flexibility and having an open hand in my study program based on my interest and having the ability to take classes across Cornell University is the reason that I choose CIPA over any other public affairs schools.

One of my favorite courses this semester is Systems Thinking, which is taught by two of the most amazing professors, Derek and Laura Cabrera. Rethinking, understanding and finding the distinctions, part-wholes, cause and effects of events happing around us in the world and how we can better solve them is one of the main learning goals of this course. Due to my entrepreneurship background, I have also taken an entrepreneurship and business ownership course from Johnson Business School, which I find very practical and useful in terms of learning how to start a new business. I’m also looking forward to taking classes next semester in Organizational Design, Negotiation, Global Innovation and Technology Commercialization.

A photo from an interview that I had recently with Linda Calhoun, Executive producer at Career Girls

I can remember my first week at CIPA very well. Everyone was welcoming. We met most of our first and second year cohorts during orientation and began making new friends. Now, as I near the end of my first semester, I feel well adjusted with my classes, assignments and at the same time I have enjoyed and learned a lot in this great community. I’m looking forward to my newly elected role, working as Vice President of Women in Public Policy (WIPP), a CIPA-based graduate student organization. I am also excited about exploring other new opportunities here at Cornell.

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