Smart Girl Stories
Ideja Bajra Plan UK International for the Day of the Girl
Stories of inspiration from Smart Girl Stories across the globe. Ideja conquers the STEAM world with big ideas

Ideja conquers the STEAM world with big ideas

Meet Ideja, a young, bright, aspiring entrepreneur and changemaker in STEAM. And guess what? She is only 20 years old, with a long history of leading young generations of students into STEAM whilst finishing her studies at the University of St. Andrews. And her journey did not begin today; it started when she was 16 when the pandemic struck. And just like her name, her life is full of remarkable ideas to bring innovation and change to the world.

Born to Kosovo-Albanian parents and raised and educated in Scotland, Ideja’s journey makes any entrepreneur look at her with awe and wonder how this 20-year-old girl has managed to completely transform the STEAM fields at a global scale while being a high school student with little to no resources with a clear mission in mind: to reach and inspire those who are unaware of their potential in STEAM.

During the pandemic, a lockdown forced us into isolation and overuse of social media networks, which is when Ideja got her first idea. “How do I get people my age interested in STEAM and discover their potential?” As a 16-year-old girl with a highly ambitious future and her father’s support, Ideja started what would become the first non-profit STEAM organization in mentoring youth, “Based in Science.” Even though her time was limited as she was busy with her studies, she found it in her heart to find something useful to do in her free time and give back to communities in her home, Kosovo, and the Balkans. She wanted to give back, as she had the resources her peers did not have at this age. She recognized how lucky she was to be educated in a high-quality system in the UK and wanted to share her knowledge and skills even further.

“And it started in 2020 when I was sitting in my house, 16 years old, and I wanted to do something. I’ve seen so many posts, particularly on Facebook, of students saying, okay, we’re locked up in Kosovo now, but we don’t have, you know, mentors; who are we going to talk to about career? There were a lot of kinds of contacts I had back there. And then I realized, okay, I’m in the most privileged position out of anyone probably in this world compared to, you know, living abroad and being from Kosovo. I have the network there. So I wanted to start something new.”

Ideja shares how she founded Based in Science with a clear mission: to create a network of professional mentors to mentor and guide high school students in Kosovo and the region in the STEAM fields of education and realize their potential. Ideja’s emphasis on mentorship and building a supportive community is very important. She highlights the significance of reaching out for guidance and surrounding oneself with like-minded individuals, which can be a valuable lesson for young girls in STEAM fields.

You can only imagine how difficult it would be to introduce a completely new field in a country (Kosovo and the Balkans) where people have heard very little about STEAM. But this did not stop Ideja from fathering hundreds of mentors across the world and the UK, and bringing the first edition of the mentoring plan to students had a success story in inspiring so many young girls and boys in their career choices. When asked why she did this, she had a remarkable response:

“I mean, I love just helping people. So then hearing the feedback, particularly from the students there, it was just enlightening. I felt, oh my God, like, how did this not exist before? It actually befuddled me. I really was like, why does this not already exist? And how is it making such a big impact when it’s all virtually? So I think it was just about taking the perfect moment and just going into it, really.”

But this did not stop there. Ideja moved on to expand her network of alumni. For the past 4 years, she has been reaching out to many more underprivileged groups of students and inspiring them to discover their potential. While embarking on this journey of supporting and lifting others, she does not realize how much she has reached her personal growth. Being only 20 years old and having such an impact on youth while also finishing her studies and now even looking to expand her field of work in artificial intelligence and ed-tech is fascinating and inspiring to many potential leaders. Her large well of inspiration to help youngsters without benefitting as much financially while also working on her personal growth is what sets her apart from many young aspiring entrepreneurs.

When she starts to work, three words serve as a daily reminder: You are amazing. That is enough for her to grow and make a daily impact in the lives of thousands of young people worldwide. Just like her name, her ideas are fresh with positivity and a clear vision: make the future a remarkable and exciting journey for many youngsters.

Ideja Bajra is a 20-year-old entrepreneur and founder of the not-for-profit Based in Science in Scotland. Born and raised in Scotland to Kosovo-Albanian parents, she brings forth cultural differences and similarities and has a clear mission to make a change in her home to her peers. She is in her second year of studies at the University of St. Andrews and is now working towards expanding her non-profit in AI and ed-tech. Starting her initiative at 16, Ideja faced the pressure of managing many students and mentors, showing her capability to handle significant responsibilities from a young age. Her achievements, like being nominated for awards and partnering with organizations like UNICEF, underscore the impact of her work. It illustrates that hard work and dedication can lead to recognition and substantial impact in one’s field.

Photos are courtesy of Plan UK International for the Day of the Girl

Edlira Dibrani

Edlira Dibrani

Hello there! I'm Edlira Dibrani, an avid reader and lover of words. An enthusiastic reader who finds solace and excitement within the pages of books. While I shy away from the label of a bookworm, books have been my constant companions throughout my life, paving the path toward my destiny as a writer. From crafting poems and essays in the 3rd grade to embracing the daily ritual of writing, my journey has been one of continuous exploration and growth in the vast universe of literature.


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