Future Neurosurgeon Extols the Virtues of Scientific Research and the CYSJ (JSST)
For the past five years I volunteered as a teacher assistant in special education classrooms. My experiences built on my kindness, compassion and sensitivity to autistic children’s feelings, and led to an increased sense of social responsibility. Noticing the students’ difficulties interacting with their environment served as inspiration for my journey into scientific research.
Each year since seventh grade I initiated and conducted neuroscience research studies at the Hospital for Sick Children, the University of Toronto and York University, published the findings in journals and presented the projects as a Team Canada or Ontario member at international and national competitions and conferences. I designed and carried out innovative experimental paradigms using the latest developments in neuroimaging and augmentative communication technology to address language acquisition and representation in the brain and to develop and implement software programs that currently serve as teaching strategies for educators and learning tools for students with autism. These activities enriched me with valuable leadership, problem-solving, time management, flexibility, teamwork, communication and technological skills.
Participating in science fairs has been both challenging and rewarding. Working on a science fair project calls for commitment: there are several steps involved which require a significant amount of time, effort and support from the home, school and community environments. Nevertheless, the hard work is definitely worthwhile. In my opinion, the benefits go way beyond the scientific concepts learned through the research. I not only gained top international awards and recognitions but more meaningfully had opportunities for personal growth and fulfillment. Research taught me that things in life do not always happen as planned, and moreover, I learned to be open to change, to persevere, to seek the best in everything, and to help others along the way.
My desire to raise awareness about science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) opportunities to students got me involved with the Canadian Young Scientist Journal. As Editor and Ambassador Program Manager, I enhanced literacy and public speaking skills to promote the journal at high school events and to review and select international research manuscripts for publication. These experiences challenged me to familiarize myself with current research in various domains, and to improve my critical analysis and proofreading skills to make meaningful edits.
Throughout my life, I desire to be a visionary leader whose personality, interests, life experiences and motivation to make positive contributions through helping others, will serve as foundational aspects for continued scientific research and volunteering initiatives.