if He is a sophomore at San Diego High School and lives in Carlsbad.
I’m passionate about food. I am 15 years old and I really love cooking, baking and tasting food. I am also very involved in robotics, participating in a number of competitions, including FIRST (or for inspiration and recognition of science and technology) and UCSD my wars Competitions. I spent three years on the FIRST Lego League team, won one competition with PiTech, the UC San Diego Pi Wars team, and am currently a member of the FIRST Robotics Competition Team Paradox 2102. classes, provide food assistance and support science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (or STEM) initiatives and collect donations.
My organization first started in 2018 on a food blog called Picky eats. Soon, I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. This prompted me to change Picky Eats from a food blog to a volunteer organization because I wanted to raise awareness of the importance of food, as well as help my community along the way. I may only be a teenager, but I know I can help a lot of people around me.
My robotics journey began in the fourth grade, with the FIRST Lego League program. In this 12-week race, students in grades four through eight build Lego robots to compete with other local teams. Once I graduated from elementary school at El Camino Creek, I wanted to find a way to contribute again to the robotics program. With the support of El Camino Creek Principal, Judy Greenberger, I took charge of the school’s robotics program. Now, I mentor over 20 students each year with Lego robots to prepare them for competition season. I also give private robotics lessons to raise money for food charities. Once the COVID-19 pandemic hit, I had to focus my volunteer efforts again.
Before the pandemic, I would cook monthly at the UC San Diego Bannister Family House, a kind of Ronald McDonald’s home for patients of all ages. Along with other organizations that provide food, all volunteer opportunities have been suspended due to the pandemic. So I decided to cook meals from scratch and deliver them to my community. I used the money from this project to fund a scholarship fund I created for what I call The Picky Eats Scholarship. This scholarship awards community college students who work and also care for their children.
In the past three years, I have focused my volunteer efforts on the Child Development Center at San Diego Mesa College. The center is also a nursery for the children of college students attending San Diego Mesa College and parents with low incomes. I first arrived at the place in 2019, before the pandemic started. She collected groceries from food banks and distributed them to parents and children at the centre. Once the pandemic was declared, I could no longer distribute such food due to safety protocols. Then I settled on a different plan: food vouchers. She managed to collect more than $2,000 in food vouchers for the center and provided free lunches to children and parents at the place for 10 weeks. I also thought college cafeterias could be a great solution for getting a low cost hot meal to feed their kids. I have written my first scholarship proposal to study this.
With the help of San Diego Mesa College Foundation and Vice President of Education Isabel O’Connor, I was awarded an innovation grant to test my theory. In addition, in December 2021, I ran a driving game with the support of local companies. Each child at the center received a toy and over $50 in food gift cards from local businesses. In total, she served over 150 meals over the course of 10 weeks.
For me, volunteering is not just about donating time or money. It’s about finding what your passion is and figuring out the best way you can help based on your skills. In total, I’ve raised over $5,000 while volunteering, and I hope to raise more in the coming years. I plan to share my research with other colleges, so they can also determine if they can provide free meals to their students’ children. By working with the Encinitas Union School District, I hope to expand the robotics curriculum to more schools that do not have a robotics program yet. In addition, I am now endorsed by the President’s Award for Voluntary Service, a title that will allow me to meet other volunteers and see their passion.
I would like to thank the many people who have helped me along the way, including Ange Mason of the UCSD Supercomputer Center, Principals Jodi Greenberger and Harlan Klein, the San Diego Mesa College Foundation, and President of San Diego Mesa College, Pamela Luster and Vice President of Instructions Isabel O’Connor, Jesse Case of Hands on San Diego and many more.
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