ASA Senior becomes a Rise Global Winner 2021

November 19, 2021
One of our Grade 12 students, Naïma, participated in the Rise Challenge, an initiative of Schmidt Futures and the Rhodes Trust, which is open to 15-17 year olds globally. Rise is designed to encourage a lifetime of service and learning by providing support which includes scholarships, career services, and funding opportunities beyond university. We are thrilled to celebrate Naïma as one of the global winners. Congratulations!

1. Tell us something about yourself…

I have been an ASA student since 2016 (6 to 12 grade). I love to travel, read and volunteer. One of the things that interest me most is to learn about new advancements in science made to improve people’s lives and solve important global issues.

2. What research work have you undertaken?

Over the past year, I have taken on problems with water quality in Madagascar. I’m passionate about improving the quality of life and healthcare of those who suffer the most from the lack thereof. I chose to focus on water filtration because I had read that diarrheal disease was one of the top death causes in Madagascar, affecting children in particular. So I worked to develop an affordable and sustainable way to filter water to reduce the incidence of diarrheal diseases here in Madagascar. Inspired by the work of Dr. Huq et al. who reduced the incidence of cholera by 50% in Bangladesh by utilizing saris to filter water, I used bacteria cultures to prove that soga cotton reduced the population of active pathogens. Soga, being cheap, locally sourced, and emblematic of Malagasy craftsmanship, was a prudent choice as it is used by the population to filter coffee. I then chose to combine LED lights with the soga, which initiated Reactive Oxygen Species, mimicking the body’s immune response to render the bacteria incapable of restoring balance. 

3. What kind of support did you receive to carry out your experience?

Studying at ASA made me a more curious person. The freedom we have when choosing which experiments we wish to conduct in science classes pushed me to be an independent thinker, solve problems on my own, and be creative in the laboratory. This contributed significantly to shaping my passion for science, and I am very grateful! My chemistry and biology teachers, Mr. Witte and Ms. Boucher offered advice and feedback whenever I consulted them. Even when the school was closed due to COVID, they readily answered my emails and were always keen to help.

4. How did you win the Rise Challenge?

I feel extremely lucky to have been selected as a Rise fellow. Rise Global Winners hail from around the world and demonstrate brilliance in a range of disciplines. The application was a lengthy process, and applicants had to introduce themselves through videos, create an individual project that demonstrates their talents and benefits their communities, and peer review other applicants’ projects, among other activities. More than 50,000 people applied, 500 were selected as finalists, and 100 as winners. Support from Rise lasts a lifetime for each winner and is personalized. What they can provide includes university scholarships, mentorship opportunities, funding and guidance to start a business or nonprofit organization, technology, and funding for research grants.

5. Can you share some of your aspirations?

I would like to work as a biotechnologist in the future. Biotechnology inspires me because it would allow me to use science creatively and innovatively to better the lives of others and solve important issues. I have received two college offers from the five I applied to, but I would like to hear from the other three schools before making a decision. In the near future, I would like to further work on my water filtration initiative and hope to be able to implement these measures in Madagascar. I would also like to tackle malnutrition, with a focus on nutritive supplements, but I am still figuring out how to go about this next project.