For decades, the San Francisco Bay Area has been acknowledged as the epicenter for technological innovation. From Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Google and Facebook, many of the greatest technology trends have found their birthplace in our own backyard. Last Friday, there was an intimate but boisterous celebration occurring in Pleasanton. At the Hilton DoubleTree Hotel, the Innovation Tri-Valley Leadership Group (ITVLG) hosted a luncheon to honor some of the great young minds that are currently paving their own paths which may lead to great innovations in our future. The ITVLG is a collaborative group of industry leaders who are building a robust ecology of innovation in the Tri-Valley. Their purpose is to improve the business climate of the region and to spur job growth. Presently, this organization geographically covers Danville, San Ramon, Pleasanton, Dublin and Livermore.
The invitees were treated to a luncheon and a keynote address from David Hemker from Lam Research. Mr. Hemker is a Senior Vice President and CTO with 25 years of experience in the semi-conductor industry. In general, he spoke to the importance of innovation in an ever-changing world. Subsequently, the individual awardees were recognized.
As it relates to the Dublin Unified School District, there were two honorees. Earlier this spring, we had the pleasure of reporting on the accomplishments of a current 10th grader Kumaran Ratnam. Kumaran was a Grand Prize Recipient at the Alameda County Science & Engineering Fair. His project revolved around an energy harvesting system that could power a visual prosthesis for the condition of Macular Degeneration. His project is not just in concept as he is continuing his research with scientists in Boston to further perfect the technology. His research later received a notice through Popular Mechanics Magazine with a “Visionary Breakthrough Award.”
The second honoree is also a DHS Sophomore, Mr. Armaan Sengupta. Along with his partner, Neil Gupta, these two enterprising students sought out to construct a viable online platform for peer-to-peer support for homework related questions. The result is the website: http://www.teenmesh.com/. The genesis of this project was hatched by Neil, a junior at Monte Vista High School in Danville. After Neil visited India, he formulated an alternative platform where students could thrive. Further, this free network could support any student – regardless of socio-economic background. Armaan was a willing partner and served to provide the “second push” in terms of gaining more users and also has served as one of the leading users that provides peer tutoring.
The two most popular series of articles we’ve published in our five year history are the Life in College Series and Women in STEM Series. This next story combines both into one, featuring Dublin High School Class of 2012 alumni Crystal Fisher who is currently attending Purdue University in pursuit of a degree in chemical engineering.
OneDublin.org: What inspired you to leave California for college and apply to Purdue?
Crystal Fisher: “Both of my parents went to Purdue. My dad is an aerospace engineer and my mom is a nurse. I visited Purdue in the middle of the winter and thought ‘absolutely not, I don’t want to go here, it’s freezing!’. Indiana in the winter is nothing like California.
“My parents encouraged me to apply because Purdue is a great engineering school; I was accepted and was awarded a scholarship which helped with the out-of-state tuition. I actually applied to 22 schools, because at the time I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go, but I knew I wanted to do something involved with chemistry, maybe pre-med or chemical engineering.
“After being accepted I visited Purdue over Spring Break and I fell in love with the campus. Purdue is very different from California schools because of the brick buildings and ivy; it has a different feel. The people in Indiana are really nice: I’ve never felt unsafe, and feel like I can go up to anyone and ask them a question. My grandmother lives about 90 minutes from Purdue so I have family nearby which helps with the homesickness.”
OneDublin.org: Why did you end up choosing chemical engineering?
Every year high school students across the country elect a student to serve as the student body representative during his or her senior year of high school. The role of Student Body President has been caricatured in movies from “Election” to “Mean Girls” as merely a popularity contest or role without substance. While that stereotype may make for entertaining movies, the reality, at least in our experience profiling Dublin High School’s ASB Presidents over the years, is very different.
We are pleased to introduce Dublin High School’s 2014-15 ASB President Tatiana Bouri, who combines academic success, athletic prowess and limitless enthusiasm for the student body and her school.
OneDublin.org: You have a reputation for being extraordinarily enthusiastic when leading spirit cheers at Dublin High School events, in particular football games in Gaels Stadium. Where does that enthusiasm come from?
Tatiana Bouri: “I have a great passion for the school. When I’m at a game and we’re winning, or at an event we’re supporting, I think of how important it is to cheer on the students and represent Dublin High School. I get caught up in and love promoting the school.”
OneDublin.org: What are some of the other responsibilities of the Student Body leadership beyond the very visible presence at school events?
The Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary defines the word “tradition” in the following way: n: the handing down of information, beliefs, and customs by word of mouth of by example from one generation to another without written instructions. For the past nine years, a very important tradition has been conducted at Frederiksen Elementary School. Guided by first grade teacher Catherine Brown and fine arts instructor Jamie Perez, hundreds of elementary students have benefited in at least two ways. They have been taught the importance and impact of the Veterans Day Holiday. Secondly, they have been provided with the opportunity to personally thank scores of Veterans and active service-people. Given its close proximity to Camp Parks, RFTA, Frederiksen has served as an almost natural conduit to welcome troops and their families to this school site.
Last Friday, the multi-purpose room at Fred began to fill starting at 9:15 AM. A mere five years ago, the number of enrolled students was just over 500. In 2014, the general population is now approaching 800. So, it required a high level of coordination and cooperation to efficiently seat the kids and the attendees. The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6298 of Pleasanton posted the Colors. The Pledge of Allegiance was led by DUSD Superintendent Stephen Hanke and all of those in attendance sang the Star Spangled Banner.
To all the parents who are dreading the moment when their first born daughter or son leaves home to attend college, you have my sympathies. Given Thanksgiving has yet to arrive, you are likely in the middle of the college application gauntlet. You are likely trying to help your child while at the same time stepping back and letting your child choose. And as Dublin High School senior and Student Body President Tatiana Bouri notes, ‘Applying for college is stressful, not only because of the essays you have to write, but because it’s probably the first time you’ve had to sit down, stare at a computer and write down what you want to be.’
I’m a parent of two daughters – Emily a sophomore at The University of British Columbia (Vancouver, Canada), and Evelyn a Dublin High School freshman. The senior year college application whirlwind for Emily is still fresh in my mind along with the multiple moments of stress that year brought. I offer advice in five phases.
Phase 1: Getting the college applications done. I helped with the clerical tasks, while Emily focused on the college essays required by many competitive colleges. For reasons that baffle me in the twenty-first century, it is necessary to take high school grades from one computer system and then type them manually into another computer system – multiple times. I advise creating a simple spreadsheet with all high school courses and grades in rows, and columns for each college. Tick off cells as you enter the required information, and mark N/A where the information is not required. You’ll be stressing about whether the application is complete, and this will approach will alleviate some of that stress. I also advise caution when providing feedback on your child’s essays – offer advice and help catch typos but do not re-write. Your child’s voice needs to be heard, not yours. And to help with Phase 2, make sure your child applies to at least one college that is as close to a guaranteed acceptance as possible (the ‘safety school’).
By virtue of serving on the Dublin High School Site Council (SSC), I have had the opportunity to meet several outstanding students. For those unfamiliar, the SSC exists as a standing body of Certificated and Classified employees, Administration, Parents and Students that meet on a monthly basis to discuss academic advancement for each school site. While there is no student representation at the elementary schools, it is typical to have at least one student representative at the middle and high school levels. At Dublin High School the senior representative for 2014-15 is Kaushik Kasi. We took advantage of Kaushik’s current experience to frame this story.
The Kasi family emigrated from India in 1998 and settled in Michigan. At the time, father Suresh worked as a software engineer for Mopar in the automotive industry. They eventually moved west to Portland and then to the Bay Area in 2000. While they landed initially in Walnut Creek, they ultimately moved to Dublin in 2002. With two school-aged children, Kaushik and his younger brother, Kavin enrolled at Dougherty Elementary and Fallon Middle School, respectively. We were blessed with the opportunity to sit down with Suresh, Anna and the rest of the Kasi family last weekend.
OneDublin.org: In our conversation, you mentioned that your consideration of the college application process actually started in the 7th grade at Fallon Middle School. How did your counselor(s) and the school accelerate this process specifically?
In California we are blessed with soaring Sierra peaks, ocean vistas and towering redwoods. The East Coast is connected by the famed Appalachian Trail, covering 14 states and 2,185 miles, stretching from Georgia to Maine. The natural beauty of our wilderness is a draw for hikers around the world, but the call into the wild goes beyond postcard moments.
I recently had the privilege to speak with 2012 National Geographic Adventurer of the Year Jennifer Pharr Davis about her experiences as a long distance hiker. Ms. Davis is known for setting the fastest through hike record on the Appalachian Trail, averaging a staggering 47 miles per day to complete the trail in 46 days (with the support of her husband and an army of volunteers). For most hikers, completing the “A.T.” is measured in months, not days.
What I learned is that hiking is not about accolades and records, but about the journey and connecting with our natural environment. Ms. Davis is currently touring the United States to promote her latest book, Called Again, which chronicles her record-setting Appalachian Trail journey.
James Morehead: What makes hiking so compelling that hikers are willing to endure pain, fatigue, weather and discomfort on the trail?
Jennifer Pharr Davis: “You are willing to endure a lot as a hiker because it’s real. In some ways I think the romantics did a disservice to our concept of the wilderness because they painted beautiful lovely days with roses and butterflies, and made everyone think that going outside was always going to be fun and relaxing. The truth is that nature is harsh. Nature can be calm and beautiful but it can also be windy, cold, buggy, and scorching hot. But it’s always real.
“In our society we have a tendency to flatline our existence through creature comforts and sometimes through medication. We’re always supposed to feel a certain way, or be entitled to a certain level of comfort. As humans I feel like our spirit is more in tune with nature and that at times we need to endure highs and lows, get through the valleys to appreciate the mountain tops even more. I think hikers go to nature not always to have the beautiful, romantic vision of how nature’s portrayed, but instead to experience something real.”
Morehead: You have had the opportunity to visit many schools. What advice do you have for students?