Touching stories of determination and integrity were submitted
from our 2017/2018 Personal Achievement Scholarship from students nationwide!
$15,000 Grand Prize Winner
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
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.