Even before they received their master’s degrees in May, Asha Owens, Danielle Llaneza and Rebecca Kwee boasted some pretty impressive credentials on their Linked-In sites.
Best Fit is a smartphone app that enables anxious high school students to ask first-generation college peers about costs, campus life, academic rigor and other concerns. It addresses “Summer Melt” – the estimated 40 percent of students who never answer acceptance letters that would enable them to become the first in their families to attend college.
Best Fit also affirms two guiding TC principles: the importance of research in shaping edtech and the power of interdisciplinary collaboration.
“I’m really excited about the change our company is going to make happen and the future of Teachers College is in this space of educational technology”
– Asha Owens
Like their aptly named product, the collaboration among Owens, Llaneza and Kwee, who first met at an EdTech Showcase information session last fall, has been all about a melding of complementary skills and experiences. Owens majored in neuroscience at Brown and received her TC master’s degree in Instructional Technology & Media. Llaneza majored in economics at Rutgers and earned her TC master’s degree in Developmental Psychology. Kwee majored in economics at Columbia and earned her TC master’s degree in Higher & Post-Secondary Education. She also has served as an admissions adviser and instructor at a private academy.
“We went in with a problem, not a business idea, and used our research to guide the solution,” says Owens.
“We wanted to make an intuitive app for a new generation of high school students that responds to Instagram and Snapchat,” says Kwee.
Best Fit, which Owens presented at the 2018 South by Southwest conference and festival in March, has drawn interest from venture capitalists and altered the plans of its creators. Llaneza will enter a clinical health psychology program this fall. “I’ve seen where research can take me and what I can do with interventions,” she says. Kwee will pursue new opportunities to develop educational technologies for universities and young adults. “TC has really opened me to the directions you can take research in terms of education, teaching and serving students,” she says. And Owens, the Chief Operating Officer of Best Fit, will also work part-time for a New York-based narrative writing platform.
“I’m really excited about the change our company is going to make happen and the future of Teachers College in this space of educational technology,” she says, adding that this past year, in addition to founding Best Fit, she designed a video board game and worked with the American Museum of Natural History to design a virtual reality experience. “When I walked on campus last September I couldn’t imagine doing one of those things, let alone all three of them in such a short period of time.” – Steve Giegerich
Read about TC's 2018 Convocation ceremonies.