Over the summer, I was able to start a SHSAT tutoring program through the Hyolomo Youth Club, an organization in Queens that organizes events for first-generation Nepalese children. Through the month of August into the beginning of September, I tutored 3 8th graders in preparation for the SHSAT exam, which is an exam that places students who score high enough into one of the specialized public schools in New York City.
As the leader of this program, I created lesson plans that I carried out in our classes. During my time tutoring Edward, Tserring, and Sonam, I was responsible for creating homework assignments, completing lesson plans, planning class activities, grading their work, and proctoring practice tests. During the month, we worked through several SHSAT prep-books and I was able to teach them the structure, strategies, and material (English Language Arts & Math) that they need to know for the SHSAT, which they will be taking in October.
Although I was able to help them improve their score and get them to a score that would allow them to go to a specialized high school, I also learned and grew. Through teaching them topics that they sometimes struggled with, I learned important skills of organization, patience, time-management, and how to give constructive criticism. Additionally, it was incredibly rewarding to get to see how much they learned and improved, and I was fortunate enough to form strong relationships with all three of them. Their gratitude and ability to stay positive and have fun were inspiring to me, and left me excited to continue to help them prepare for this test on the coming Saturdays.
This summer, I worked with Roche Pharmaceuticals, a medical company that creates new medicines for patients that hopefully cure their diseases. I collaborated with Roche to create an app that will use surveys and games to track patients’ progress after taking a new medication. A patient will use this app everyday, and it will overtime track a patient’s progress and strength via games. I was able to help Roche create games that will effectively test patients’ strength and will also provide exciting, engaging and fun games for children to play. For example, I suggested ways to test patients’ strength and also helped design the app + create games to make make it more fun and exciting. Additionally, I got to create surveys that will be sent to hospitals across the US for patients to answer. With that information, I will run “focus groups” where I will interview patients for what they hope to see in the upcoming app, and from that information, Roche will improve their app to make it better suited for patients. This was a a really fun and rewarding experience because I was able to interact directly with patients who will be heavily impacted by this app and medication, which will hopefully be able to improve their quality of life.
Over the summer, I got the opportunity to volunteer with University of Southern California’s Neuroscience Graduate Research Program. During the summer, I collaborated with a team of research scientists at USC to help design a textbook cover on disease discovery and treatments that will be released in June of 2016. My experience working with USC was very eye-opening. It enabled me to understand the amount of work, dedication and passion nonprofits really have for what they do. I witnessed the amount of care and diligence the researchers had when creating this textbook cover with me which made me appreciate further the amount of care they put into their work. While collaborating to generate a design for a book cover, I made a series of different designs and covers which was then narrowed down to only a few. This experience taught me teamwork skills along with being able to take constructive criticism and use it to create a more successful end result. Being surrounded by so many accomplished, stimulating, caring people was truly inspirational to me and made me want to work extremely hard for them. I found my summer service to be very fulfilling because I was able to develop my interest in art, non-profit organizations, research, and science into one project. Additionally, I developed new skills by working with USC. I sharpened my research skills, furthered my skills in computer design (Photoshop and PowerPoint), and improved my public speaking and communication skills. At the end of the summer, I had to give a presentation to a group of scientists on the research I had done and the covers that I had created. Although it was undeniably nerve-wracking, it greatly improved my public speaking and communication skills. By the end of the summer, I found a new sense of gratitude for non-profits as well as finding a new interest of mine that I care about deeply.
I’ve included these photos below that include the logo of USC but also photos of cells and molecules that I helped edit and organize for the textbook’s cover.
Prompt: In what ways has your attitude toward your social issue changed over the course of the project?
By participating in the YPI project, as well as getting to work with an amazing non-profit organization, Fountain House, my view on the social issue of mental illness has changed. Before I did this project, I was under educated about what a mental illness is, and I was hesitant when I would walk by a mentally ill person on the street. It definitely was unintended and stigma, but I was part of the community putting stigma on the mentally ill.
Now, I do not feel this way, and I feel badly that I ever was part of the group of people that placed an unfair stigma on the mentally ill. From researching mental illness and getting the opportunity to see Fountain House firsthand and witnessing how much their members love it and see how they are all so tightly connected with such support and love for one another, and how within the walls of Fountain House, there is absolutely no stigma, I learned more about mental illness. I learned that a mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of. I realized that people living with a mental illness are not a danger to society whatsoever, but they enhance our society. By doing this project, I realized that the stigma we put on the mentally ill is the most significant problem, and that we should by no means discriminate against the mentally ill. We should not place them in a different part of society, forcing isolation upon them and not allowing them to be part of a working society; instead we should encourage and support the mentally ill, and help educate people about mental illness to make an effort to de-stigmatize mental illness.
Over the summer, I volunteered at an organization called YAI. YAI is an organization of physical therapists, speech therapists, and social workers who help children and their families with different types of special needs. At my time at YAI, I was able to help make games for the children who go there for treatment, help with data entry, and help mail and prepare flyers with information for children’s families. I also had the chance to talk to a child having surgery who was upset, and I had to talk him through it in order to make him more comfortable and prepared.
Volunteering at YAI was a very rewarding experience because I got the chance to work with inspiring role models who devote their lives to helping others, as well as help children in anyway I could. My time at YAI opened my eyes to different types of people and their needs. Volunteering made me want to become a better person, and help other.