AsylumConnect: Lose a Prize, Win a Startup

By Katie Sgarro C’15, Co-founder of AsylumConnect

Penn’s President’s Engagement Prize changed the course of my life. And I didn’t even win.

In the summer of 2014, going into my senior year at Penn, President Amy Gutmann announced Penn’s inaugural President’s Engagement Prizes competition. In the midst of a hectic summer in New York City, fellow rising Penn senior, Sayid Abdullaev C’15, approached me with an idea for the competition that would ultimately evolve into AsylumConnect. The idea was to create the first online, centralized resource database for LGBTQ asylum seekers in the U.S. It was ambitious, worthwhile, and novel—I was hooked.

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