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Scholar Close-Up: Jessica Pointing

Scholar Close-Up: Jessica Pointing

Quantum computing, believes Jessica, has the potential to improve people's lives.
Jessica Pointing
Photo: Holly Hernandez

What global issue are you interested in addressing?

Quantum computing is an exciting field that has the potential to impact other industries. During my PhD at Stanford, I will be doing research in the area of quantum computation. In particular, I am interested in the practical applications – in areas such as machine learning, medicine and energy systems. Today, there are many problems that cannot be solved efficiently on our current computers. Solving such problems more efficiently could save lives and our planet. Hopefully, we could build quantum algorithms and the quantum devices that can efficiently solve such problems. This field intrigues me because on the one hand I can explore the fascinating physics of our universe, and on the other hand I can use such physics to build technology that could impact and improve people’s lives.

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

Phil Knight, the co-founder of Nike, writes in his memoir Shoe Dog, "Before running a big race, you always want to walk the track." Being in the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program means walking the track. Walking the track will prepare us for the biggest race in our lives – pursuing our life’s mission. This mission is unique to each person, and has a purpose beyond oneself. Being in the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program also means training on the track. The training is planned, such as the leadership workshops, but it also happens through serendipitous encounters in Denning House. Most importantly, the program has created a community that will allow us to run on the track together – to collaborate in solving global issues. The Knight-Hennessy program gives us the opportunity to walk, train, and run on the track.

What excites you most about the program as it gets underway?

I am excited to be surrounded by people in the arts, science, technology, education, law, business, medicine, and government. Engaging with the scholars in all of these areas will expand my mind and deepen my understanding of global issues. I am hopeful and excited to see the scholars positively influence these areas – both by working within these areas, and between them. To quote the book of Philippians, I believe that good leaders "do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above themselves, not looking to their own interests but each of them to the interests of the others." I look forward to see the scholars manifest this type of leadership, and the impact this type of leadership will have on the world.

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