Jackson High School senior Isha Vasil is a star student of 2022
Isha Vasil could have left the learning institute last summer feeling discouraged, defeated and even silenced. Instead, she saw it as an opportunity to help others.
As part of the three-week college-level institute, the Jackson high schooler had been paired with four boys from other schools and tasked with building a prototype and go-to-market plan for their own high-tech company in one week. .
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The project started off well enough, but soon her teammates started making demeaning comments about her gender and race. In the end, the boys were so unappreciative of his contribution that they dropped his name from the project.
“It was a struggle for me and I remember crying,” Vasil said. “…It was a shocking experience, but I realized it was happening in the whole field (of computing) I was trying to get into.”
Vasil identified a lack of resources – for struggling girls in the summer program and for girls wishing to explore the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
She first raised her concerns with the university that hosts the institute, which has since added support systems. Vasil then teamed up with her friend, Tegan McCray, to start an after-school club at Jackson Memorial Middle School to expose girls to different fields of science, technology, engineering, and math and help them prepare for the obstacles they might encounter in a male-dominated career field.
“I think it’s really important for women to speak out,” Vasil said. “Somebody has to be able to tell them it’s okay to speak up and it’s okay to show your worth.”
Vasil was named one of the top five star students this year. She was selected from over 100 senior graduates. The Canton Repository, Akron Beacon Journal, The Record-Courier, and The Daily Record annual program recognizes outstanding area high school graduates.
Jackson High School guidance counselor Courtney Vigars said she nominated Vasil because of his ability to find solutions to real-world problems.
“I know I will read about her one day when she creates something amazing for our world,” Vigars said.
Vasil discovers computer science
Vasil was trying to solve a problem when she discovered the field of computer science. Then a freshman, Vasil was volunteering at the front desk of Summa Akron City Hospital – where his mother works as an endocrinology nurse practitioner – when a pregnant woman arrived visibly distressed and unable to put into words the type of help she needed.
Vasil realized that the woman was trying to communicate through sign language, a language Vasil learned in sixth grade. Vasil, who also knows English, Hindi and Spanish, was able to help the woman find her emergency meeting location.
“It was a good experience for me to help her there, but at the end of the day I was thinking and thinking, ‘Why didn’t she have resources at her disposal to be able to communicate with others ?’ ” she says.
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Vasil’s search for a solution led her to find an app developer who was using Google’s translation software to recognize hand movements, so he could translate hand movements from the language of signs as it would for a spoken language.
“My mind was blown,” Vasil recalls. “I was like, ‘What is this magic? How can I do this?'”
She spent the rest of the summer learning more about app development and coding. She then developed her own phone app to help nurses and doctors calculate insulin doses for patients after hearing her mother talk about how doctors do the calculation manually.
“It wasn’t very pretty, but it worked,” Vasil said. “It was an amazing experience to be able to put two and two together and be able to really make an impact.”
As a member of the Spanish Society of Honor in her first year, Vasil saw the need to modernize the society’s website and created a new one herself. As president of the society this school year, she sought to infuse her encounters with culture by hosting movie nights that included arts and crafts from Spain as well as Spanish dishes and desserts.
Vasil, who has also served as president of the Math Honor Society, captain of the speech and debate team and member of the tennis team, hopes to combine her penchant for problem solving and her love of technology into a career. .
She enrolled at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, where she will pursue a joint degree in business and computer science. His dream job is to be a UI designer or product manager helping refine existing applications.
Contact Kelli Weir at 330-580-8339 or [email protected] On Twitter: @kweirREP
Meet star student Isha Vasil
High school: Jackson High School
College/post-baccalaureate choice: Washington University in St. Louis
Major(s) considered: Joint degree in business and computer science
social media siteif you use the most: Instagram and Snapchat
TV shows you binge-watch (or plan to binge-watch):”The right place,” “Switched at birth,” “Dance School”
Favorite subject in school: AP Search
Person (other than a parent) who had the biggest influence on you and why: My Spanish teacher, Stella Muñoz, who allowed me to grow by valuing the contribution of students in her teaching and by making herself constantly available for the needs of her students. She also gave me the freedom to innovate within the Spanish Honor Society, which was an amazing opportunity for me!
Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Become a UI designer or start my own business!
Briefly describe your favorite high school memory: Participate and participate in the Yale Invitational Speech and Debate tournament with my team. We were able to explore the campus and make lots of fun memories together.