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Scholar Close-Up: Drew Bent

Scholar Close-Up: Drew Bent

Visiting K-12 schools across America confronted Drew with a harsh reality.
Drew Bent
Photo: Holly Hernandez

What global issue are you interested in addressing?

I see myself as a public interest technologist — someone who understands technology, both the good and bad, and can use that expertise to help advance the public interest. As someone with technical training, I know how tempting it can be to want to apply technology to every solution. But technology has it its limits, and it's time we address them. Whether it's in city hall, a classroom, or a newsroom, I want to ensure that we use technology to help bolster, not undermine, our societal institutions.

What inspired you to pursue your current academic interests?

Education reform is something I care deeply about. In 2015, as a freshman in college, I embarked on a bike trip across America with six other students. Along the way, we stopped in a dozen communities and taught computer programming and engineering to local students. While I had initially been laser-focused on education technology, the trip confronted me with a harsh reality. iPads in schools went unused, the 3D printers practically became doorstops, and SMART Boards were nothing but high-end whiteboards. I learned that what affected the students more than the raw technology were the broader policies, curriculum, and school design. Now at Stanford, I am interested in how we can redesign K-12 schools from the ground up.

What does being a Knight-Hennessy Scholar mean to you?

Being a Knight-Hennessy Scholar is an opportunity, but it's also a commitment. It's a commitment to do something that otherwise we may not have had the luxury to do. It's a commitment to think beyond ourselves and to focus on serving the communities around us. While I am already immensely grateful for the opportunity that the Knight-Hennessy program brings me, fulfilling my responsibility for social good will be a lifelong commitment.

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