Tecumseh woman makes Forbes 30 Under 30 list for education

Emilie Cushman, founder and CEO of Kira Talent, was selected for the Forbes 30 Under 30 for Education list.

Admissions process platform does more than look at test scores

Kira was founded in 2012 and already works with more than 400 institutions around the world. (Kira Talent)

A woman from Tecumseh has landed on a Forbes Top 30 Under 30 list. 

Emilie Cushman is the founder and CEO of Kira Talent, a university admissions platform, designed to "help students put their best foot forward." The system incorporates essays and timed interviews, to look at more than grades and test scores.

"It really shows the culmination of six years of hard work, not only of myself but the entire team," said Cushman. 

"The traditional [admissions] way is heavily reliant on quantitative — test scores and transcripts," said Cushman. "Those things don't necessarily correlate with success."

Emilie Cushman grew up in Tecumseh, Ont. She graduated from the University of Windsor. (Kira Talent)

Cushman calls grades just one of the data points necessary to evaluate.

"If they're just relying on marks, then you get one type of person. You get people who are really good at getting high marks. Maybe they are very book smart and they can cram and they can get a 95 on every exam," Cushman said.

"There's just so many other types of intelligence, and what we're hoping is that over time, we can start to have more balance."

The company was founded in 2012 and already works with more than 400 institutions around the world, including Stanford, Yale, McMaster, the University of Toronto and some European universities.

"The original idea was to add video to the recruiting process," said Cushman. Six years later, Kira now also works to educate universities on unconscious bias in their admissions procedures.

"What we've noticed over the past six years is there is a lot of bias that sways the process," said Cushman, listing a unique story, a family friend or a high school alumni connection as bias.

(CBC)

"We started noticing this trend, and we thought we really need to do something about this."

Kira began with graduate admissions, but has since expanded into undergraduate and medical schools. 

Cushman hopes to continue to expand the company's work.

"We have offices in Canada. We're just opening an office in China," said Cushman. "We have employees in the U.S., and probably Europe is next on the map."

Although she graduated from the University of Windsor, it's not one of the schools that uses Kira in its admission process. Cushman says she's still working on it.

"Hopefully soon."