“Being a caregiver at the age of 19 involves many responsibilities, in addition to school and figuring out life and all of the tragedies and miracles that come with it,” Alexandria Knipper ’21 said while giving a TEDx talk at TEDx Youth Beacon Street in Boston, Mass. about her experience as a full time college student and caregiver for her father during his battle with cancer.
In addition to sharing her family’s story, Knipper also reflected on how the experience motivated her to become an entrepreneur and found UVA – an online cancer connection community that connects cancer patients, survivors and caregivers.
Knipper delivered her TEDx talk on Nov. 9.
Following a competitive application process, Knipper was selected for her qualifications as a future leader, organizer for change and boundary breaker. In the months leading up to her talk, Knipper was provided with storytelling coaching, resource development tools and was assigned a mission enhancing mentor.
Knipper is one of 23 participants who delivered talks at TEDx Youth Beacon Street. Other participants included students from Harvard University, Berklee College of Music and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The strategic partner for the event is One Bead, a non-profit founded by CEO Sarah Wroblewski ’15.
To prepare Knipper for her TEDx talk, she was partnered with Carolina Amador Carrascal, a senior research scientist and project lead at Philips, a leading health technology company focused on outcomes across the health continuum from health living and prevention, to diagnosis, treatment and home care.
“Carolina is amazing. As a Hispanic woman in the software development industry, she is someone I aspire to be,” Knipper says. “TEDx calls the speaker and partner relationship a ‘catalyst.’ She has definitely been that person for me.”
Knipper’s talk highlights how, in addition to managing school work and family, she created the business UVA – an online cancer support community for cancer patients, survivors and caregivers. Knipper developed the idea for the nonprofit while participating in the startup accelerator program Summer Sandbox. There, she transformed her idea for a community that could become a support system for patients and caregivers into a viable business proposal. She went on to compete in the finals of the HWS Pitch Contest, where judge, member of the Board of Trustees and principal user experience design architect at the Walt Disney Company Michael Rawlins ’80, P’16 took notice of the strength of her presentation.
In a Q&A between Pitch judges and Knipper following her presentation in the finals of the competition, Rawlins said, “When I read your proposal, it really resonated with me. The social responsibility component, your story. It tells me a lot that as you go through this journey, you are capable and you are going to stick through it.” Since then, Rawlins has become a mentor to Knipper and authored the nomination for her participation in TEDx Youth Beacon Street.
On campus, Knipper is a media and society major with a minor in entrepreneurial studies. She is a research assistant and study table facilitator for the Center for Teaching and Learning, and works in the Office of Advancement. Last summer, Knipper interned for Gilda’s Club, a community support organization that provides social and emotional support for men, women, children and teens living with cancer, as well as their friends and families. In 2019, she was a semi-finalist in the New York State Business Plan Competition.