2020 Essay Contest High School Winner: Ana Veselinov

We’re proud to announce Ana Veselinov as the 2020 Ohio STEM Learning Network Essay Contest High School Winner.

Ana’s essay details why and how she sought to build more recognition for  student athletes at her school. Her school doesn’t have a sports team. Instead, students continue to play for sports teams at other schools. Working with her classmates, Ana identified an opportunity to increase awareness and recognition for these fellow students. Keep reading to learn more about her solution to solve this problem in her community.

Ana is recent graduate of Akron’s National Inventors Hall of Fame STEM High School, a designated Ohio STEM School. She’s enrolling in the University of Akron this fall, where she’ll study nursing. Ana’s always wanted to study medicine and volunteered in an oncology unit at a hospital last year.

She encourages other STEM students to “try out a little bit of everything and find out what you like.” Ana’s found what she likes, helping other people, a passion that comes through in her essay below.

To hear about next year’s contest, be sure to sign up for the Ohio STEM Learning Network updates here.

2020 Essay Contest High School Winner, Ana Veselinov, NIHF STEM High School

Ana VAt my high school, NIHF STEM High School in Akron, we don’t have any “home” sports teams, so the students who want to play sports have to play for their “home”/“district” school. I was one of those students and I played volleyball for East CLC, while the rest of my high school academic career took place at STEM. This is an unusual and unique situation for the student-athletes at my school as at STEM the sports high school culture isn’t as prominent as it is at other schools that do have their own sports teams. At our pep rallies, the athletes are represented by sport and seasons although all the students in that category may represent different schools. There are not any other prominent activities in place to better represent the student-athletes at our school.

In my capstone class at school, we are tasked with coming up with an issue that affects us in any way and spending the duration of that class trying our best to solve said problem. I decided to try and work on the issue of the under-representation of the student-athletes at STEM. The class is geared on taking different steps throughout the period of the class for us to be able to find solutions that work best to solve our problem. I decided to work on the problem of bettering student-athlete representation because I had multiple conversations with other students and student-athletes around the school that felt as though they were being affected by this. The next step after identifying our issue is to investigate why it is an issue in the first place.

We interviewed other students and had different conversations regarding why we think it is an actual issue, and I came to the conclusion that it’s because we don’t have any sports at our school, and there isn’t a system in our school to help represent our student-athletes in an equal way. I also tried to compare our STEM school to a regular high school through an ecosystem map and found some key differences. In a regular high school setting, the school would have coaches, athletic trainers, athletic directors, and other individuals that are involved with sports intertwined within the regular school setting. Sometimes coaches can even be teachers in the classroom. They also have more opportunities for news to get around about sports events that are happening. In our school, we don’t have athletic directors or any similar administrative positions that allow for news to travel about the different events that the student-athletes in our school do. The next step in the process is ideate.

The ideate step is where we come up with different solutions for our problem and figure out which one would be the best. I knew what information I wanted to present, and my different ideas were mainly just in different mediums. At first, I wanted to create different social media pages where I could post about updates to certain games or different achievements that individual student-athletes have. The next idea that I had was creating an app that would include that same information, and I thought that I could also include a place for the student-athletes to input their achievements individually. In class, I had several group discussions with some of my other peers where we would discuss and critique both of our standing ideas to try and come up with the best one. I decided to create a website where I could include schools’ athletic schedules and make that website easily accessible for the rest of the school.

The next steps in the process were to implement and inform, which is where we finish making our product and make it accessible for the school and others to see. Throughout making the website, I ran into some technical difficulties. I used the platform WIX to create my website and I wasn’t able to insert some schools’ athletic schedule sites because the technology wouldn’t allow me to do so, and I also wasn’t able to include standing social media pages of schools’ sports teams, athletic directors, etc. the way that I had envisioned doing so. I believe that as the website stands, it offers student-athletes at STEM some closure that their hard work will be noticed. The website is posted on NIHF STEM’s school website where not only the students, but parents and other administrators will have access to see when STEM student-athletes have their events.

My capstone’s website is Essay Contest and my product’s website is https://anacapstone2020.wixsite.com/stem-sports-hub.

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