Texas Scholar Gold Medalist - Winner of a $10,000 award
Grace Danting Li - Glenda Dawson High School-Pearland
- Glenda Dawson High School-Pearland
- Lincoln Douglas Debate
- Simmons, Bert
Biography:State Farm® is pleased to announce the selection of Grace Danting Li of Glenda Dawson High School in Pearland as a 2012-2013 State Farm® Texas Scholar. The daughter of Yi Li and Shixia Huang of Manvel, Grace is ranked 6th in her class of 468 students. Academic Accomplishments: A member of National Honor Society, National Spanish Honor Society and a National Merit Finalist, Grace is a National Advanced Placement Scholar, having achieved the highest score of 5 on 9 AP exams and a score of 4 on 1 exam. She was selected as only 1 in 35 students nationwide to be a Simons Summer Research Fellow at Stony Brook University, where she conducted independent research on the black plague. After successfully petitioning her high school to allow the prestigious USA Biology Olympiad exam to be given at Dawson, she went on to become a Semifinalist, having scored among the top 10% in the nation. She was awarded a Silver Medal for her results on the National Spanish Exam (Level 4) and a Gold Medallion for her perfect score on the National Mythology Exam. She has also won national gold medals in numerous categories of the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. A few of Grace’s acknowledgements and awards: All-American High School Service Team Award (3 in education, 15 total) Featured on the cover of Parade Magazine Harris Wofford Youth Award (1 total) Top 10 National Youth Service Task Forces by US Center for Citizen Diplomacy MSN 16 Incredible Kids Who are Saving the World Power of Children Award (5 total) The 25 Most Powerful and Influential Young People In The World by Youth Service America Congressional Award, Gold Medal President’s Volunteer Service Award The Girls Going Places Entrepreneurship Award National Finalist (15 total) Texas Entrepreneur of the Year Award Finalist (25 total) White House Website Guest Blogger (invited) 2012 Huffington Post Blogger (regular, invited) 2010-present Houston Chronicle Blogger (regular, invited) 2009-2010 GenerationOn Turning Points Guest Blogger (invited) 2012 Invited Presenter/Panelist, US Summit for Global Citizen Diplomacy. Washington DC Invited Keynote Speaker, Youth Service Institute Annual Conference by Youth Service America. Detroit, MI UIL Activities & Accomplishments: Academic: Lincoln Douglas Debate – Vice President (12), Team Leader (9-11). Along with two other students, founded the Debate Program at Glenda Dawson High School. Regional Qualifier (10 & 12); 1st Place District (10); 3rd Place Impromptu Invitational Meet (10); 5th Place Invitational Meet (10); 2nd Place Invitational Meet (11); 1st Place Team Debate Sweepstakes (11); 2nd Place Invitational Meet (12); 2nd Place District (12) Extracurricular & Community-Based Activities: Grace is involved in many extracurricular clubs and organizations including Student Council, Interact Club, Red Cross Club, Environmental Club, and Young Politicians of America. She takes on a true leadership role in many organizations. She is a co-founder and current president of the Habitat for Humanity Club, meeting with Habitat for Humanity Houston leaders, and organizing house building and fundraising activities. Her leadership skills are also demonstrated with Switched-On Physics Club. Grace serves as vice-president and presents robotic projects to local school children who are always mesmerized by the walking, talking robots created by club members. Grace was one of five Dawson representatives to present the club robot at the Texas Association of Gifted and Talented state convention. She was also selected to represent the club at NASA's International Space Educator's Conference. Her participation with the humanitarian project, The Sunshine Project: Walk a Mile in my Shoes, is indicative of her commitment to serve and to create positive interaction among those around her. Grace was instrumental in the implementation of this project, which serves as an outreach to the special education students in her school and allows them to participate in our extracurricular science activities. Grace serves as the president for the Sunshine Project. Grace is the leader and founder of the WE CARE ACT, a non-profit organization founded in 2008 which promotes service-learning worldwide by engaging 23,000+ youth in 17 countries and 100+ US schools. It has helped 14,000+ kids recover from six natural disasters with over $70,000 raised. Future Plans: Upon graduation, Grace plans to major in Biology in college and then attend medical school and perhaps pursue a MD/PhD dual program.
Essay:Silver Change The sky was an exhilarating blue, and the sun blazed on my sweat-drenched back. Taking a deep breath, I lifted my hand to the door and knocked. After a few seconds, the door cracked open just enough for someone's clear blue eye to peek through, and I began to speak before I could get cut off with the “no, we're not interested, thank you” that I had heard so many times before. “Hello, my name is Grace, and I'm raising money for the earthquake victims in China. Would you like to make a donation?” I held out the handmade donation box I had made the night before from an old shoebox. Please help, it read, because so many people are dead. At 12 years old, I got my first taste of death on a wide-screen TV. Images of collapsed buildings and misshapen bodies had seared themselves into my mind with a burn that made it impossible not to do something. To my surprise, however, not many volunteer organizations were willing to employ twelve year olds—so I had taken things into my own hands. Here I was, a pre-teen in ratty sneakers and a too-big T-shirt, with an almost-empty box of cash clutched in one hand and a homemade newsletter in the other, going door-to-door in a town where the word Sichuan meant little more than the quaint Chinese restaurant down the road. A young boy was standing in the doorway, and for the first time, I saw someone whose eyes mirrored the sadness in mine. Of all the adults I had talked to that afternoon, not one of them seemed to grasp the sheer, cripplingly devastation I felt. Adults have had their own brushes with death—I had not. “My parents aren't home right now,” he began. I was about to turn around when he opened his clenched fist, where a handful of silver change glimmered in his outstretched palm. He handed it to me, and added apologetically, “Sorry I don't have any mor—Wait!” He dug his hands deep into his pockets, searching, and finally came out with two nickels, a dime, and three old pennies. He handed the coins to me as well, and gave me another hopeful smile. “I hope this helps.” In that moment, my smile mirrored his as well. It's been over five years since May 12, 2008. I'm older now, and maybe wiser—I'd like to think so. More importantly, I've started what I promised the twelve year-old me that I would do: change the world. The $84 I raised that day has multiplied exponentially. The newsletter I made has become ten, twenty, thirty. My one-person quest to make a difference has grown from a backyard effort to We Care Act, a 501(c)3 non-profit my two siblings and I founded, that has over 100 team leaders spanning 17 countries. We Care Act has raised more than $40,000 for over 14,000 disaster victims in not just China, but Haiti, Japan, and the United States. Community service has always been, and always will be, my driving force. From teaching science to special-education kids to conducting English workshops for young students in China, service has shaped every aspect of what I do. In the future, I hope to continue my work in service by pursuing a career in medicine, helping others “get to a better state” but also because I realize that helping others will get me to a better state as well. As of today, there is still nothing worth more to me than those few, precious seconds when a boy with golden hair and glittering eyes the same color as the skies above emptied his pockets for a cause he had never even heard of. I hope he knows that there are 14,000 people out there who would like to thank him…and that I am one of them.
Texas Scholar Silver Medalist – Winner of a $5,000 award
Emmalie Berkovsky - Shiner High School
- Shiner High School
- Number Sense, Mathematics, Track & Field, Volleyball, Marching Band, Concert Band or Orchestra, One-Act Play, Cheerleading
- Dierlam, Scott
Biography:State Farm® is pleased to announce the selection of Emmalie Berkovsky of Shiner High School as a 2012-2013 State Farm® Texas Scholar. The daughter of Jimmy and Janette Berkovsky of Shiner, Emmalie is ranked 1st in her class of 45 students. Academic Accomplishments: A member of the National Honor Society and National Merit Commended student, Emmalie will graduate on the Distinguished Plan due to her enrollment in honors and dual credit classes all throughout high school. She is a National Society of High School Scholars member, a Highest Honors Student, and received TAKS commended performance on all her tests. Her outstanding ACT score received a national ranking in the top 99% of students. Emmalie has been named to the United States Achievement Academy Who’s Who Among All-American Scholars, and is the recipient of their National Language Arts Award and National English Merit Award. She is a Voice of Democracy State Finalist (17th), a Wendy’s High School Heisman School winner, and a National Youth Leadership Forum on Medicine nominee. Emmalie was invited to join the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society at Victoria College, where she maintains a 4.0 GPA. Emmalie was invited to participate in the following prestigious camps: University of Texas Honors Colloquium Invitational, University of Texas Women of Engineering Invitational, Texas A&M University Merit Scholars Invitational, Columbia University Science Invitational, Texas A&M Talented & Gifted Pre-Med Camp, and the Rotary Youth Leadership Camp. UIL Activities & Accomplishments: Academic: Number Sense – Team: 1st Place District, 2nd Place Regional (2013). Individual: 1st Place District, Regional Qualifier (2012) Team: 1st Place District, Regional Qualifier (2012); 1st Place Team District & Regionals – State Qualifiers (2011) Science - Individual: 3rd Place District, Regional Qualifier. 2nd Place Team. Shiner Meet: 6th Place Senior (2013); Individual: 5th Place District (2011) Team: 1st Place District, 2nd Place Regionals (2011) Mathematics – 2nd Place Team District, 3rd Place Regional. Shiner Meet: 3rd Place, 1st Place Team (2013); Individual: 3rd Place District, Regional Qualifier (2012) Team: 1st Place District, Regional Qualifier (2012) Poetry & Prose Interpretation – 1st Place District, Regional Qualifier (2012); 3rd Place District, Regional Qualifier (2011) News Writing Headline Writing – Shiner Meet: Individual 3rd Place (2013); Individual:1st Place District, Regional Qualifier (2012) Team: 2nd Place Journalism Team (2012) Editorial Writing Informative Speaking – 5th Place District (2012) Athletic: Track & Field – 100 M Hurdles, 3rd Place Regionals - State Alternate, 1st Place District/Area, 2nd Place Rice Meet, 4th Place Flatonia Meet, 3rd Place Tidehaven Meet (2013); 100 M Hurdles, District Finalist (2nd), Area (2nd), Regional Finalist (5th)(2012); 100 M Hurdles, District Finalist (4th), Area (4th), Regional Finalist (4th), Long Jump District Finalist (8th) (2011); 100 M Hurdles (JV) District (1st), Long Jump District (3rd) Volleyball – Individual- Academic All-State, Academic All-District, All-District Honorable Mention (2012); Individual- starting Middle Blocker, All-District 2nd team, Academic All-District (2011); Team- Area Champions, Regional Quarter Finalists (2011, 2012) Tennis – Varsity Girls Doubles - 2nd Place District, Regional Qualifiers (2013). Individual- Girls Doubles JV – 1st Place – District (2012); Individual- Mixed Doubles JV – 1st Place – District (2010) Music: Marching Band – Woodwind Captain, Rookie of the Year (2011); Edna Marching Contest – 1st Division, Regional Marching Contest – 1st Division (2010); Regional Marching Contest – 5th Place, Blinn College Marching Contest – 1st Place, Judson Rocket Marching Contest – 1st Place, Area Marching Contest – Advancing Band – 1st Division (2009) Concert Band – 1st Division (2010) Sight Reading (Band) – Sweepstakes – 1st Division (2011) Other: One-Act Play – Advancing Play - Zone, District Area, Regional - State Qualifiers. Honorable Mention All Star Cast - Zone Meet. Actress: Mother in “The Giver” (2013); Actress: Lady Bellaston in “The History of Tom Jones, State Alternate Play, Zone competition – Honorable Mention All Star Cast, Area competition – All Star Cast (2012); Actress: George Merry in “Treasure Island”, Regional Finalist Play (2011); Crew Member for “Pinocchio”, Regional Finalist Play, Zone Competition, Best Crew (2010) Cheerleading – Varsity Captain (2012 – 2013), UCA All-American (2013), NCA All American (2012) Extracurricular & Community-Based Activities: In addition to her broad UIL participation, Emmalie serves as President of the Student Council and Editor of the yearbook. She has also participated in FFA and is a Leader in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. She was voted Most Likely to Succeed and Most Talkative by her fellow seniors. Emmalie is also a Girl Scout of America and a member of the Shiner First United Methodist Church. Emmalie is a 2013 recipient of the President's Volunteer Service Award issued by President Barack Obama. Throughout her high school career, Emmalie has volunteered over 663 hours in her community. She is a blood donor, a Locks of Love donor, and a participant in the County Road Clean-up, and Veteran’s Day and 9-11 Programs. She is a Shiner Public Library Volunteer and also works with the Gaslight Theater as an actress and crew member. She is the Social Media Coordinator for the American Cancer Society Relay for Life. For the second year, she has been an Upward cheerleading coach, solely responsible for a squad of Pre-K and Kinder kids. She has received "Red Cord Honors" from the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center. This program is designed to recognize students who have made the choice to participate in the life-saving act of blood donation at least seven(7) times with the American Red Cross during their high school career. Future Plans: After graduation, Emmalie plans to attend the University of Texas where she has been accepted into the prestigious Engineering Honors program. She plans to study Chemical Engineering and Biology. When she finishes college, she hopes to pursue a career as a pharmaceutical researcher, specifically in the area of cancer research.
Essay:Mind, Body, and Soul Every Saturday morning in late January and early February I would hit the snooze button on my alarm clock and think about how nice it would be to sleep in, just this one time. But, every Saturday morning, I got out of my sanctuary of a bed because I knew my girls were counting on me. Without me, the seven cheerleaders who made up the Sunflowers would not know what cheer to do, remember the moves to the dance, or know which mother was in charge of snacks. As an Upward Cheer coach, I had sole responsibility of my six and seven year olds. When I became a coach my junior year of high school, I thought I would have an adult there to watch over me and make sure I was doing what I was supposed to do. I was shocked to find out on my first night of practice that I was independent. That first night, I realized that I was going to have to learn to be responsible, punctual, organized, and everything else associated with being an adult. Luckily for me, I had some background teaching kids. As a varsity cheerleader for my high school, I was responsible for helping run the mini cheer camp that our squad hosted every summer. At the cheer camp, though, I had my sponsors telling me what needed to be done. Still, the little experience I had gave me the confidence I needed to get started. Through lots of planning and preparation, my confidence in my ability to lead and teach was able to blossom. Also, teaching and interacting with little children helped me to become a patient person. Overall, Upward helped me develop characteristics that got me to a better state of mind; by the end of my last year of coaching, I was more confident, responsible, and mature. Upward cheer also helped me realize how out of shape I was. I might have played three sports, worked out every day, and lifted weights, but when it came to chasing Pre-K and Kindergarten children around a church for an hour, I was exhausted. Also, while chasing children, I had to be able to cheer in a loud voice, hit sharp motions, and execute beautiful toe-touches on command. Upward helped get me to a better state of physical health. Upward is also a Christian organization that emphasizes the importance of God in a person’s life. As the coach, I was responsible for leading devotions that talked about a different aspect of Christianity every week. I talked about topics from respect to self-control with my girls. We also prayed together and learned bible verses. Even though I was supposed to be helping the cheerleaders grow in their faith, it was me who reached a better state spiritually. In college, I want to continue the lessons I learned during Upward. The most important aspect of college is, of course, learning. I am so excited to attend the University of Texas to study as a chemical engineering honors student. In my small high school, I am not able to take many upper level classes, not because I am incapable, but because my school simply does not have the resources to offer college-level and AP courses. But I know that once I step onto the UT campus I will have access to knowledge that does not exist in Shiner, Texas. Through UT and engineering, I know I will expand my mind beyond anything I ever imagined possible; I will get to a much better state of mind. I love sports and activity. In college, my plan is to play intramural volleyball, rock climb as much as possible, lift weights, run, and just be active. With this exercise, I also plan on trying to eat right, despite the temptations of the dreaded all-you-can-eat buffet. My goal is to stay in a good state of health. UT has a huge branch of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. I am a leader of Shiner’s FCA, and I intend to be active in this organization in college. Through this, I hope that I can continue to grow in my faith. College is a life experience, and I plan on getting as much out of it as I can. I will be presented with so many obstacles and opportunities to grow. Throughout it all, I am determined to get to a better state, mentally, physically, and spiritually.
Texas Scholar Silver Medalist – Winner of a $5,000 award
Roger Randolph Cain - Liberal Arts & Science Academy High School
- Liberal Arts & Science Academy High School
- Editorial Writing, News Writing, Soccer
- Callahan, Nancy
Biography:State Farm® is pleased to announce the selection of Roger Randolph Cain of Liberal Arts & Science Academy High School in Austin as a 2012-2013 State Farm® Texas Scholar. The son of Randy Cain and Katharine Cox of Austin, Roger is ranked 3rd in his class of 225 students. Academic Accomplishments: A member of the National Honor Society and a National Merit Finalist, Roger is an AP Scholar with Distinction, having scored 5’s on 5 AP exams and 4 on 1 AP exam. He is on the Journalism Honor Roll, has received the AISD Trustee’s Scholar Top 10% Award all throughout high school, and has been voted “Most Likely to Succeed” by LASA Class of 2013. The following are a few of Roger’s academic accomplishments throughout his high school career: Ava Crofford Youth Citizenship Award presented by the Soroptimist International (2013) 2nd Place in Greek History, 3rd Place in Roman History at the Texas State Junior Classical League State Competition (2013) 1st Place in Greek Mythology, 2nd Place in Greek History at the Texas State Junior Classical League Area F Competition (2013) Phi Beta Kappa Alumni Association High School Scholarship winner (2013) 2nd Place in National Communications Competition/Environment for newspaper story on the effects of drought in Austin, National Federation of Press Women (2012) 3rd Place team Quizbowl High School National Championship Tournament (2012) National Latin Exam, Gold medal (freshman, junior), Silver Medal (sophomore) Member of 5th place team at National History Bowl in Washington D.C. (2012) National News Story Award for "Cracking Down," a story on student truancy, Quill and Scroll International Writing and Photography Contest (2011) Tops-in-Texas In-Depth News/Feature Package from the Interscholastic League Press Conference (2011) 1st Place Latin Derivatives, Texas State Junior Classical League Area F competition (2010) 2nd Place Best-in-Show for newspapers 13-16 pages from National Scholastic Press Association (2012) 3rd Place Voice of Democracy Audio-Essay Contest, District-Level (2012) UIL Activities & Accomplishments: Academic: Editorial Writing – 1st Place in State (2012); 2nd Place in Region (2012); 3rd Place in District (2011) Newswriting – 3rd Place in District (2013); 4th Place in State (2012); 1st Place in Region (2012) Barbara Jordan Historical Essay Competition – 1st Place in State Athletic: Soccer – Undefeated in district 26-4A, District Champions (2013); 1st Team All-District (2012); Area Champions (2011); Bi-District Champions (2010, 2012); Academic All-District (2010-2012) Extracurricular & Community-Based Activities: Roger is a true leader amongst his peers, and the depth of involvement in his extracurricular activities reflects this. He is the first person in the history of his school to serve as captain of the Academic Quiz Bowl Team for 4 years. The team took 1st Place at the Harvard Fall Tournament (12) and was Texas State Champion (9). He took 1st Place at the National All-Star Tournament as a member of Team Texas (10). Roger is Co-Editor-in-Chief of the national-recognized school paper “The Liberator.” During Roger's time on staff, it has won a Gold Crown and two Silver Crowns from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association, and has won three Gold Stars from the Interscholastic League Press Association. He further demonstrates his leadership capabilities by serving as President of the National Honor Society and Co-President of the Latin Club. He participates in the Freshmen Mentoring Program and is a volunteer Math tutor. Roger was 1 or 4 students from LSAS chosen by science teachers to attend the Keystone Youth Policy Summit, during which he collaborated with students from around the country to research and author energy sustainability proposals which were presented to corporate executives, advocacy groups, and government officials. Away from school, Roger is an Eagle Scout and is very active in his church. He volunteers with the Boys and Girls Club of East Austin, serving as an assistant coach for the elementary and middle school soccer teams. This past summer, Roger and his younger sister worked together to create an outreach program called Music Across Generations that allows youth to share their musical talents and gain performance experience while providing entertainment and companionship to the elderly. They recruited other youth musicians, organized 21 concerts at assisted-living facilities and performed for more than 195 seniors. He spent over 70 hours on this volunteer project and continues to get requests to perform across Austin. Future Plans: Roger has been accepted to Harvard, Princeton and Stanford and is still considering his college choice. He plans to major in political science and history and, after receiving his bachelor’s degree, he hopes to attend graduate school.
Essay:You could say it was love at first sight—after all, the youth medieval history section was just the right height to catch my six-year-old eyes. I staked out my territory in the middle of the aisle, building a ‘castle’ for myself with books on knights and medieval civilization. The patient librarians at the Howson Public Library, a small red-brick building just a few blocks from my house, got to know me well—each time I came to the library, I carried home stacks of books filled with diagrams of catapults and trebuchets, and pictures of armored knights. The library was a place of mystery and excitement for me, somewhere I could immerse myself in a new and adventurous world. When I had read the entirety of the library’s youth middle ages collection, I moved on to books detailing the battles of World War II and ancient Roman and Greek culture. I attribute not only my passion for history but also my love of reading to these weekly trips. In middle school, I studied Latin and joined the Certamen team, a quiz competition focused on classical civilizations. I was the team’s Roman history specialist—to prepare, I read book after book on the Julio-Claudian emperors and the Punic Wars. In high school, I joined Quiz Bowl and specialized in poetry, art history, and world religions. Last year, I decided to take my passion one step further—adding to the historical record. I entered the Barbara Jordan Historical Essay contest which challenges students to document the life of a notable African-American using original research and primary sources. I wrote about the life of David A. Talbot, Jr., Assistant Attorney General and General Counsel to Governor Ann Richards. Over several months, I interviewed Mr. Talbot and his colleagues, located newspaper articles about his prosecution of negligent nursing homes, and found audio describing Talbot’s first meeting with Barbara Jordan. After much searching, I discovered an oral history of Talbot’s father archived at East Texas A&M. It was Talbot’s first time reading his father’s interview which made the find even more rewarding. My essay won first place and was archived in the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas. This experience helped me realize that instead of just appreciating history, I could be a historian. Texas has a rich cultural history that I’ve already discovered through my research during the Barbara Jordan essay competition and my own personal interest in the subject. My knowledge of history has brought me to a better state, increasing my understanding of the world we live in and the lessons of the past. I’ve been able to contribute to Texas’s historical legacy, by helping David Talbot find his father’s previously unknown interview transcript. I want to help tell the stories of those whose voices have not been heard, and to bring to light new ideas and perspectives surrounding important historical events, from the Civil Rights movement to the Texas Revolution. I don’t know exactly where my love of history will take me—perhaps creating public policy, curating at a museum, or writing newspaper articles and historical fiction. I hope to be a history professor at a university; I would relish the chance to do my own research and write my own works of history. Whatever career path I take, I will continue giving back to my community through service, embarking on each new day with the same wide-eyed enthusiasm I had as a kid in the Nonfiction section. One thing's for certain—I’ll never be too old to sprawl out in a comfortable spot in the library and let myself fall into the exciting stories of the past.
Texas Scholar Silver Medalist – Winner of a $5,000 award
Sailesh Kumar - Westwood High School
- Westwood High School
- Computer Science, Concert Band or Orchestra, Solo & Small Ensemble ( Division 1 & 2 only )
- Perry, Lynn
Biography:State Farm® is pleased to announce the selection of Sailesh Kumar of Westwood High School in Austin as a 2012-2013 State Farm® Texas Scholar. The son of Sundari and Bala Kumar of Austin, Sailesh is ranked in the top 8% of his class of 584 students. Academic Accomplishments: A member of the National Honor Society and Mu Alpha Theta (Math Honor Society), Sailesh is a National Merit Finalist. By the time of his graduation, he will have taken 6 advanced sciences, 7 advanced maths, and 3 advances computer science classes. He is an AP Scholar with Distinction. He was one of 10 students selected nationwide to participate in the Baylor University High School Summer Science Research Fellowship Program in June of 2012. Working in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, he helped develop a computer model to study the bio-mechanical effects of reverse shoulder arthroplasty. As a result of this research, his work will be published. Later that summer, he attended the University of Texas at Austin High School Summer Research Academy, working in the Department of Computer Science Artificial Intelligence Lab, developing an AI program to control robots using Python. Sailesh is a Team Leader for the Texas School Safety Center, an organization which provides schools with research, training and technical assistance to reduce youth violence and promote safety in the state. He was one of 15 teens statewide awarded a scholarship to attend the Texas School Safety Youth Leadership Conference. At the conference, he co-founded the Teen School Safety Alliance, a newly established Youth offshoot of TxSSC. He was awarded scholarships to attend a TSSA In-Service 3-day retreat in 2010, 2011, and 2012, and to attend the Extreme Youth Leadership Camp for 3 summers in Kerrville. He is the subject of an article in the Community Impact magazine which can be seen here: http://impactnews.com/articles/robotics-club-recruiting-student-volunteers/ UIL Activities & Accomplishments: Academic: Computer Science Music: Orchestra – Has been in the orchestra since 6th grade. Solo & Small Ensemble – Perfect scores. Extracurricular & Community-Based Activities: Sailesh is a four-year member and current President of the Westwood Robotics Club. Throughout his time with the club, he has been responsible for conducting summer training sessions, giving presentations to the school district Advisory Board on the club’s contribution to STEM education, hosting tournaments at Westwood High School, fundraising, and demonstrating their robot to Dell Computers and several elementary and middle schools. Sailesh and the Westwood Club participate in many Robotics tournaments, and their placements and finishes have been the best in the history of the club. He has for three years been a member of the SkillsUSA Club. SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers, and industry partners working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce. Sailesh has competed in various competitions in the Mobile Robotic Technology category and Related Technical Math Category, often advancing to the state level. In addition, he is the co-founder and co-president of the Warrior Ignition Club. Through this organization, he designed and ran the Majority Rules Campaign against marijuana use at Westwood. He organized and ran a Non-Alcohol Wrist Band campaign, designed and directed a public service announcement on Smoking, Drinking and Drug Use, and organized the training of students for Community Emergency Response Team certification. Sailesh is a member of the Westwood Orchestra Officers Club, as well as the Ping Pong Club, Badminton Club and Cricket Club. Outside of school, Sailesh shares his love and talent of robotics by mentoring and coaching elementary school students. In 2012, he coordinated and conducted the Human Values contest. The contest challenges students to produce an original work in literature, music or art pertaining to five human values - Truth, Right-conduct, Peace, Love and Non-violence. This project is intended to encourage the students to incorporate these values in all facets of their lives. He is actively involved with the Sai Center (multi-faith church), and has volunteered at Seton Northwest Hospital and the Milwood Library. Future Plans: Upon graduation, Sailesh plans to attend the University of Texas at Austin. He plans to do his PhD in Computer Science with strong multidisciplinary training.
Essay:Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there! It’s our duty as human beings to be ‘good neighbors’ to every single person we can. While at first it seems that being a good neighbor only helps others get to a better state, the reality is that service to others is service to oneself. My church, the multi-faith Sai Center of Austin, “strongly emphasizes selfless service to those in need as the highest means for enhancing one's own spiritual growth and development”. I strive to live by that credo wherever I am. If I see a need, I take the initiative to address it within the limits of my capability. As an Extreme Youth Leadership participant, I had received first responder certification in mass disaster response readiness. After Central Texas communities were devastated by wild fires I made arrangements for thirty fellow students to be certified at the fire station. When people help each other, society as a whole benefits: helping is a gift that keeps on giving - the recipients of good deeds tend to pay it forward. Also, helping, service or giving back, whatever name we give it, is a source of joy and satisfaction to the giver. I have found that true in every one of my service activities, no matter how small. I received resounding applause for a simple piano rendition of “Happy Birthday” from the residents of the Austin State Hospital. It is one of my best memories. This school year I started a program to teach robotics - NXT and Lego Mindstorms - at two underserved elementary schools where the kids had practically zero exposure to technology and robotics education. Through my program these kids are learning programming, basic engineering concepts such as levers, and applied math, such as calculating distance from rotation, based on circumference. It is so gratifying to see these kids gain fundamental competence in robotics that I look forward to going practically every day after school. It makes me proud to think that I am teaching robotics to kids who probably never thought they would have this opportunity, and that I am sparking interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). STEM education is a concern of mine. It is almost impossible to listen to or read the news without learning about how the US’s low rank in STEM education is detrimental to our future economic competitiveness. I feel that young people, like me, should be seen as a resource for rectifying this problem. Why can’t we tap high school kids, who have STEM training, to mentor younger and/or underprivileged children who may be struggling in these areas? As president of Westwood Robotics club, I initiated summer EasyC programming classes for incoming freshmen. These classes motivated many freshmen to join our club, and to go on to pursue STEM. Every year my club hosts a First Lego League (FLL) tournament for elementary and middle schools, and we demo our robots at elementary schools to spark interest in technology and robotics. Coupling my robotics experience with the service part of me is the ultimate satisfaction. I was able to use my inventiveness and creativity when teaching the kids aspects of robotics such as programming and engineering. In introducing the idea that robots are useless unless programmed with every single detailed instruction, I pretended to be a robot, and asked the class to get me to the sink. They said ‘move forward’. So I moved forward, but never stopped. I knocked over desks and kept moving my legs even when I hit the wall. The kids rolled over laughing; they thought I was a clown, but they understood this crucial concept. Mentoring these kids in robotics has been very fulfilling. It is allowing me to share my skills and give expression to my talents. Society can profit from a person’s contribution of time, labor, or talent, not just money. My talents lie in STEM and music. I am now at this better state in which I realize how important teaching is. I intend on teaching and mentoring for as long as I can, which puts me in a better state because I will constantly be helping others, and will constantly be helping myself. I will also be guided by the principle of service in my professional life as well. When I am a professional in the field of Computer Science it will be very important for me to give back to society and be engaged in STEM work that has a positive impact.