Meet Polsky Member of the Month: Devshi Mehrotra
Polsky member Devshi Mehrotra joined the Polsky Exchange as a first-year undergraduate at UChicago. At first, what drew her to the Polsky Center was the extensive network of mentors. She explained, “As the director of a computer science outreach organization which engages 300 students annually and the cofounder of a public-interest technology startup, I am always looking for individuals and resources who can help me be a better leader. The Polsky network of mentors is comprised of a diverse set of individuals who are not only accomplished in their respective fields but also very eager to support others.”
Now, a fourth-year student pursuing a joint bachelor’s and master’s degree in computer science, Mehrotra’s interests in entrepreneurship and technology have only deepened. “I believe in the potential of public interest technology to strengthen the ability of our government institutions to uphold justice, particularly for those most vulnerable,” said Mehrotra. “And it is with this conviction in mind that I began working on a project for the Cook County Public Defender’s Office alongside fellow computer science student Leslie Jones-Dove earlier this year.”
This project, named JusticeText, is a software product that works to process and transcribe video evidence in order to generate a searchable and editable transcript for public defenders to access and use to aid their defense. Cofounded by Mehrotra and a fellow computer science student, Leslie Jones-Dove, JusticeText is currently completing a pilot with 10 public defenders in Cook County.
When asked how the Polsky Center has impacted her work so far, Mehrotra said that the guidance offered by Polsky’s mentors has been hugely helpful for both her current startup and her past experience participating in the College New Venture Challenge. For other UChicago students with entrepreneurial aspirations, she advised, “If you are a UChicago student, you have a limitless amount of resources at your disposal to translate your education and privilege into projects that actively strengthen the community around you. Take advantage of that!”
And of course, we had to press her for a bit more info just for fun…
If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?
As a California oddball who never quite learned how to drive, the ability to teleport would be a true game-changer.
What is your spirit animal and why?
My spirit animal is the hamster – they are hyperactive, small, and rather non-threatening.
What would the title of your autobiography be?
“Devshi and her Coffee Shops: A Love Story for the Ages”
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Be your own biggest believer, and the rest will follow.
You’re trapped on a desert island and can only choose one book to read, movie to watch, and album to listen to for the rest of your life. Which do you choose?
The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander, Back to the Future trilogy, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy by Kanye West