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Amsal Ali

1575

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Finalist

Bio

Throughout my life, the pursuit of my goals has taught me the value of perseverance and grit. My desire to use grassroots organizing to create policy change has pushed me to pursue leadership positions in Congressional House Campaigns, including interning for Congressman Gil Cisneros's (CA-39 District Candidate) re-election campaign. I have learned the value of sacrifice and have given up time with family and friends to attend school board meetings and advocate that school leaders better serve all students. My yearning to help my parents’ business recover from financial loss during COVID has pushed me to learn about developing credit and investing in my financial future through Roth IRAs, and commit as much time as possible to work at the business. As I continue through college and beyond, I hope to use emerging technologies to support equal opportunity and enact positive social change, and utilize grassroots movements to better our world. For the next 4 years, I will be attending Stanford University as a first-gen college student, where I hope to major in Symbolic Systems (integrates knowledge from diverse fields of study including Computer Science, Linguistics, Mathematics, and Philosophy).

Education

Stanford University

Bachelor's degree program
2022 - 2026

Whitney (Gretchen) High

High School
2018 - 2022

Miscellaneous

  • Desired degree level:

    Master's degree program

  • Graduate schools of interest:

  • Transfer schools of interest:

  • Majors of interest:

    • Economics
  • Not planning to go to medical school
  • Career

    • Dream career field:

      Business, Government

    • Dream career goals:

      Policymaker as Senator or House of Representatives, Policy and Financial Analyst, To Build Impactful Companies

    • Cashier

      Flame Broiler
      2020 – Present4 years

    Sports

    Basketball

    Junior Varsity
    2019 – 20201 year

    Awards

    • Spirit of the Team Award

    Research

    • Genetics

      ARQuest SSERN — My co-authors and I used machine learning, specifically principal component analysis (PCA), to unveil fundamental differences between tumor suppressors and oncogenes; we desire to publish our results in the near future.
      2021 – Present
    • Artificial Intelligence

      Global AI Hackathon Hosted by the Knowledge Society (My team and I placed as finalists out of 100+ teams) — We created a wearable technology that utilized CNNs to make an accurate prediction of the emotion of a speaker, interpreting data collected by an infrared camera, in order to help neurodiverse people in a collaborative workspace.
      2020 – 2020

    Public services

    • Public Service (Politics)

      Sylvester for Congress (US House of Representatives Election) — Student Advisor; Policy and Technology Lead
      2021 – Present
    • Advocacy

      GENup — Director of Operations and Founder of Cerritos Chapter
      2020 – Present
    • Advocacy

      Climate Cardinals — Partnerships Lead and Team Development Coordinator
      2020 – Present
    • Advocacy

      Stanford Neurodiversity Project: Advocacy Camp for High Schoolers — Project Team Lead
      2020 – Present
    • Public Service (Politics)

      Cisneros For Congress (US House of Representatives Re-election Campaign) — Intern
      2020 – 2020

    Future Interests

    Advocacy

    Politics

    Volunteering

    Philanthropy

    Entrepreneurship

    WCEJ Thornton Foundation Low-Income Scholarship
    I still remember the fear in my parent’s eyes as they sent me to school hoping it wouldn’t be my last. It was the day after the Parkland shooting. Every channel showed interviews of weeping students, grieving parents, and the failure of our government to keep schools safe. Even if they were 2,837 miles away, I knew it could happen anywhere, even in my city. Though I was just a 15-year-old, myself and my peers had every right to call out the officials that represented us. Even if we couldn’t vote, we most certainly still had power--the power of Parkland’s student voices motivating us to call for needed change. I began to organize a student-led movement to ensure our voices were heard in our school district through GENup Cerritos. One social media post at a time, we worked together to reach students through their language and called attention to a petition calling for a student school board member and collected about 500 signatures. Impressed, the board embraced our voices and created a task force with student-appointed representatives from every high school in the district. Through this initiative, the task force was able to advocate for the implementation of an equity officer that now addresses the socioeconomic concerns of all students. The most impactful project I led was an advocacy-based project for the neurodiverse community. After a profound conversation with a neurodiverse friend, I began to recognize advocational disparities for neurodiverse students. I took time to learn about why such disparities occurred and led conversations with other neurodiverse students to understand how they felt on campus. With the new perspectives I uncovered, I began to amplify neurodiverse voices at my school by leading multiple-day allyship workshops for our school’s administration. Here, we unpacked misconceptions about concentration deficits, revealed often unseen microaggressions, and developed strategies to implement universal learning design (a framework to optimize learning for all people). These workshops were then distributed to schools across the district and to our school board, and quickly, I saw tangible increases in allyship for our neurodiverse students. Many of my teachers began mental health check-ins for our student body, and numerous teachers even opened up about their own struggles. But truly, what I was most excited about was the bear hug I got from my friend because he started to feel that his difference was no longer a burden. Parkland inspired my fight for change, and GENup Cerritos has provided me a meaningful opportunity to cultivate a community of activists, where we are pressing our decision-makers to take action so that disparities and inequities are eradicated. More importantly, I have discovered my why as I endeavor through challenges, no matter the circumstance, because they provide meaningful opportunities to impact the lives of people however differently-abled. Such a journey taught me the value of perseverance and grit. Outside of this project, my desire to use grassroots organizing to create policy change pushed me to pursue leadership positions in Congressional House Campaigns, including assisting CA-39 District Candidate Gil Cisneros as an intern during his 2020 election campaign, to recruit volunteers and mobilize constituents. My yearning to help my parents’ business recover from financial loss during COVID has pushed me to learn about developing credit and investing in my financial future through Roth IRAs, and commit as much time as possible to work at the business. I also learned the importance of good habits and the importance of creating systems that will ultimately allow me to develop such habits to achieve my goals. Without creating such habits, such as learning to follow a schedule and stick to it, I could not have followed through on many of the projects I have done. And moreover, good habits help me to dedicate time to develop skills like programming. As I continue on to college and beyond, I will utilize these lessons to quench my incessant thirst to truly have an impact on my community and the world around me. And that is my goal for the future. How will I achieve it? I am not sure yet. I have the soul of a restless activist as I push for educational policy change in my community through GENup. As an evolving innovator, I relish creating scientific solutions to real-world problems. I see my path forward in layering social justice with STEM solutions, as I embrace this dichotomy while building companies, runnning for political positions, and challenging myself to strive for better, always.
    Next Young Leaders Program Scholarship
    I remember waking up that February morning, my phone blowing up. I was in disbelief; I felt a part of me disappear. I lost Kobe Bryant. After visiting his memorial, I realized that Kobe would live on forever. He had inspired a generation of fans to shoot for the stars. I strive to be the leader Kobe was to everyone around him, on the court as a teammate, and off the court, as a father and entrepreneur. Whenever a teammate messed up, Kobe did not let it slide; he held his teammates accountable and held himself accountable so that the team could succeed. He was a true leader. Through Kobe, I have learned that leadership means using your why to inspire generations of people to enact change and holding colleagues accountable, and respecting and appreciating them, to reach the highest levels of success. I have utilized this philosophy to focus on my goal of leveraging the strengths of communities to find solutions to problems affecting our world today. As students, we have the ability to organize in any capacity, as we are the agents of change, and thus, we can better our education system. Through my passion for education advocacy, I started a GENup chapter in my district. At first, we struggled to grow as an organization because of my leadership; I was simply not holding my team accountable for their work. Many would just show up to meetings without completing their responsibilities, and I would just keep giving extensions. I realized that I needed to introduce structure to GENup because my leadership was not at all effective. I have made 2 changes to overcome this challenge. First, I actively express my passion for GENup and why I absolutely need a proactive team to create change. I also established an accountability system, where team-members work in collaboration to create a project, and delegate tasks within their groups, thus holding themselves accountable. I provide feedback as much as I can and take extra time to attend everyone's meetings to ensure teams are productive too. With this, we have been able to organize meetings with state senators, school board members, run mentorship days and have convinced our school board to created an equity officer position. Through more competent leadership, I was able to create an impact-focused team, and it is powerful. The pandemic was undoubtedly stressful, but I interpreted it as an opportunity to grow and learn. The pandemic molded me into a leader and taught me how to overcome stress and express gratitude for all that I have. I have learned what it means to take care of a family, overcome demotivation, and conflict-resolution. Through all my adversities, I have mastered agility. The greatest of leaders have the ability to take on unfamiliar circumstances, at any given moment, and circumvent their problems to achieve their goals. I have learned to make the toughest decisions, because I see failure as an opportunity to reflect, and strategize, and execute better. I want to push myself to continue to be a better leader. My goal in the future is to explore the immeasurable possibilities of space and seek to make a change in my community. I aspire to be at for front of planetary research, but, I also desire to actively lead campaigns, encourage communities to employ innovative solutions, and by expanding upon my skills, I hope to lead national movements too. Thus far, leadership has taught me so much! But, I have so much to learn, so that one day, I can be a leader who truly leaves his dent on this world.
    "Your Success" Youssef Scholarship
    The Parkland shooting was a focal changing point in my life. I vividly remember the government failing to enact change even after the Parkland community came together to stand up against gun violence. The outcomes of this tragic event inspired me to get involved in my community, to ensure that we could hold government officials accountable and create a more equitable and safer future. It was through such an experience that I found my passion for creating change through grassroots movements. I began to get involved within my community and truly enjoyed it. I developed connections with community leaders, and last year, I was able to participate in the Cisneros for Congress re-election campaign, where I managed voter outreach and facilitated partnerships with the local community, bringing constituents together for events and rallies. This upcoming year, I hope to use the skills I learned to help run a campaign for candidate Sylvester Ani, so that the government officials we have work for the people, not for their own benefit. Through all my experiences, I have learned that in order to create change, we must focus on the strengths of communities and leverage their talents to find solutions. As students, we have the ability to organize, in any capacity, as we are the agents of change. I have utilized this philosophy to tackle our education system. I have assembled teams of students to advocate for inclusive classrooms, standing by the neurodiverse community, and moreover, for all students, by actively fighting for student school board members, an equity officer, and increased civic engagement. Over time, I have also come to realize the significance of integrating technology with our social solutions, in order to create effective change. For that reason, I have engulfed myself in understanding how to use technology to best help people around the world. Last year, for instance, I participated in an AI hackathon through The Knowledge Society, where my team and I created Motus One, a wearable technology that combines vocal and facial analysis to better understand emotions. We utilized convolutional neural networks to allow us to interpret data collected by a microphone and infrared camera, in order to make an accurate prediction of the emotion of a speaker, and relayed to a user through bone conduction and bluetooth. In the end, we placed in the top 10 out of 100+ teams, but more importantly, I learned that how we can utilize technology to help millions of people, thus creating a better society. Truly, college is my next step. I hope to pursue higher education to increase my breadth of knowledge and create more meaningful solutions for our world. I have a special passion, one I explore the most in my free time. It is space; one day, I hope to be an astronaut. But, I still undoubtedly want to explore political organizing and technology. I can achieve this by attending university, where I can learn how diplomacy works in one class, how to use brain-computer interfaces to help the world in another, and how we can use astrophysics to understand how our vast universe functions too. College will allow me to discover different fields, so I will truly be able to understand what my passion is and what I want to tackle for the rest of my life. I hope to utilize college as a stepping stone into the discovery process, simply because I have so many different passions. Hopefully, I will be able to pursue each and every one of these throughout my life, so that I can undoubtedly leave my dent in this world.