Killington Mountain School students were lucky enough to spend an hour with alumni parent (Sophie Norton '16) and Intel Fellow Debra Goldfarb, who hosted a presentation for the community focused on critical 21st century skills, as well as artificial intelligence and the ethics surrounding it. Goldfarb, one of only ten female fellows at Intel and 110 total, offered to come speak to student-athletes and share some of her insight about the critical skills that make young people hirable and desirable.
Goldfarb's path to the California-based tech company was somewhat unorthodox; she studied Chinese language and culture in undergraduate and graduate school, yet when it came time to find a job, found it more challenging than expected to find work in China. She ultimately found her niche in a role at the International Data Corp, and finally with Intel where she now serves as Chief Analyst for the Competitive Performance and Market Intelligence Group. In speaking with the KMS students about her non-traditional path to the tech industry, Goldfarb underscored the critical importance of strong communication, writing, and reading skills in any industry. She shared her insight about the value of studying both the humanities and STEM-centered subjects for students in high school and college, "Young people who are strong communicators and are graduating with the ability to work in data and analytics are at a premium; there's a shortage of them and they are extremely employable."
Her presentation illuminated the omnipresence of artificial intelligence in our modern lives, its impact often subtle enough to go unnoticed while still wielding major influence on humans all around the world. This led to an interactive exchange between Goldfarb and the students about the impact and influence of social media, the power of data gathering, and the ethics and social responsibility behind AI.
Goldfarb ended her talk with some advice for the group, "Always be certain to challenge yourself about what you are reading and learning; make certain you always know the counterpoint. Study the opposition; see both sides. I read a variety of things every single morning. Be certain you read a lot and across many different subjects. Never surrender your choice about education – if you don’t like what is being offered – ask for what you need - make the case why it’s critical. If all else fails, find somewhere else.. In addition push hard on policy. Consider your privacy. You have a voice and a pen. Scream loud. Be aware. Make choices about how you want to influence the world around us."
Students and faculty alike left Goldfarb's presentation talking, thinking, and continuing the conversations that she'd launched, and feeling appreciative of the opportunity to sit in the audience of an incredibly inspiring individual.