Introducing our scholarship winners

Touching stories of determination and integrity were submitted
from our 2017/2018 Personal Achievement Scholarship from students nationwide!

2017/18 Personal Achievement Scholars Winners

Check out previous winners

$15,000 Grand Prize Winner

Grant Sheen

Grant Sheen

Sage Hill School - Irvine, CA
Class of 2019

As Grant watched his grandmother (a formerly astute woman) whittle away from the debilitating effects of Alzheimer disease and the progressing lack of her ability to communicate, he became interested in searching for a solution. After she passed away, he dedicated his energy to unravelling the communication issues between Alzheimer patients and their caretakers.

Grant volunteered at a local senior center and established a community service organization to pay tribute to his grandmother and help patients like her. He discovered that caretakers would be better able to care for their Alzheimer’s patients if they could understand their needs.

Grant undertook a research project and with the guidance of Professor Knut Solna of UC Irvine who suggested that he study related computational methods such as linear, Bayesian, and neural network classifiers. To prepare himself, Grant took Khan Academy courses on linear algebra and statistics, Coursera tutorials on optimization and machine learning and taught himself to code on Matlab through online tutorials.

Through hard work and many challenges, Grant developed the first wireless method for brainwave classification of Alzheimer’s patients, achieving about 90% accuracy for four thoughts and the first to implement the optimization method called Alternating Minimization within a neural network.

“My research provides a solution to the communication issue between Alzheimer’s patients and their caretakers and can also be extended to other communication disorders, such as stroke, autism, and ALS. It gives back the voices and identities of millions of people like my grandmother.”

$5,000 Second Place Winner

Ryan Sathianathen

Ryan Sathianathen

Moreau Catholic High School - Fremont, CA
Class of 2019

Ryan’s life changed at 14 years old when he was diagnosed with chronic Myeloid Leukemia.

Ryan’s illness eventually forced him to take a long term medical leave from school to undergo intense chemotherapy, radiation and a bone marrow transplant.

In spite of being out of school, he managed to stay up to date with his academic work maintaining a 4.56 GPA and scoring a perfect 5 on both his AP Computer Science A and AP Biology exams.

During a long term hospital stay, Ryan saw the need to relieve patient’s mental state (especially children in the hospital for long periods). He came up with an idea and along with Dr. Gokul Krishnan designed and created an Innovation Pop-Up Space at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital for patients to express their creativity while distracting them from their illness. The Innovation Pop-Up Space is the first of its kind in a hospital.

The Pop-Up Space is equipped with a 3D printer and Build –Your-Own Circuits. Patients are able to create whatever they like and allows them to feel useful. Ryan views beating his illness as his greatest personal achievement that enabled him to create the Innovation Pop-Up Space.

$2,500 Third Place Winner

Meachelle Lum

Meachelle Lum

Dougherty Valley High School - San Ramon, CA
Class of 2018

Meachelle established a nonprofit charity called Lum AVM (Arteriovenous Malformation) Organization in honor of her mother who she lost at the age of 16 to a brain aneurysm. This Organization donates to multiple charities that support deprived children and expectant mothers as well as the Brain Aneurysm Foundation. In the first seven months, the organization received over $90,000 in donations!

The first charity Meachelle decided to help was one close to her home – The Valley Pregnancy Center. Meachelle and her dad met with the medical director of the center and they provided the facility with donated toys, books and other children utilities. This wasn’t enough! Meachelle also donated her time to help the children. “I remember teaching a toddler phonetics using my favorite Rainbow Fairy book. Children like her helped me realize that although I had lost my mom, there were others who never experienced a mom’s unconditional love. Her toothless grin motivated me to focus on what I still had, rather than what I lost and had taken for granted.”

Additionally, Meachelle works with multiple organizations such as the Brain Aneurysm Foundation and even schools to promote brain aneurysm awareness.

$2,500 Third Place Winner

Camellia Moors

Camellia Moors

Land O Lakes High School - Land O Lakes, FL
Class of 2018

In 2017, Camellia recognized the need to reduce the carbon footprint of her local library. All of the libraries in her county were constructed in the ‘80s and ‘90s and no efficiency upgrades had been made since then, creating enormously wasteful buildings. Camellia decided to raise funds to bring her local library to LEED Bronze status (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) the most widely used “green” building rating in the world.

Camellia approached the library and county management with her idea. They were receptive to the idea and ordered an efficiency audit through the local electric company. The audit was huge and revealed a laundry list of upgrades that could literally cut the $48,000 + annual electric bill in half

Through social media and news outlets within the community, Camellia was able to get the Pasco county commissioners on board. She convinced them that the project was so important for the tax payers as well as the environment that they should consider correcting all wasteful libraries.

They agreed and put a $9 million bond for the taxpayers to vote on to upgrade all Pasco county libraries. Camellia is passionate about the environment.

Apply for this years Scholarship