Of all the things TIPsters do well, one of their greatest gifts is their willingness to face challenges head-on and with tenacity. We see it when they tackle challenging problems in their coursework, and we see it when they grow up into adults who forge new grounds in research, who lead successful companies, and who use their talents to serve their communities. Here, we bring you the stories of three young TIP alumni who have risen to challenges presented by COVID-19 in unique and inspiring ways: a high school valedictorian who recorded his graduation speech for a drive-in broadcast, a medical student who was a lead author on one of the nation’s first COVID-19 seroprevalence studies, and a college student who helped get meals to frontline healthcare workers.
Luke Stancil graduated first in his class at Karl G Maeser Preparatory Academy in Lindon, Utah this year. Under normal circumstances, being valedictorian would mean delivering a speech to a packed auditorium filled with classmates and proud families, but of course, graduation ceremonies were anything but normal this year. Luke’s high school took a unique approach: a drive in graduation. Luke recorded his speech in advance to be played at the ceremony, and in it, he describes the lack of control that many of us have been feeling lately, and how that uncertainty is an opportunity for growth. You can watch Luke’s speech in its entirety here.
Luke attended Summer Studies in 2015, taking Mathematical Problem Solving at Trinity University. He will attend Rice University this fall.
Bianca Mulaney is a medical student at Stanford University, and was a lead author on one of the nation’s first studies of COVID-19 seroprevalence. Seroprevalence refers to the level of a pathogen in a population, as measured by blood tests. Bianca and her colleagues tested over 3,400 participants in two days in Santa Clara County, CA, and provided some of the first evidence of population-level seroprevalence. The revised preprint edition of their findings is currently awaiting peer review, and is available here. Bianca also worked on a seroprevalence study with Major League Baseball employees, which garnered a lot of media attention. Bianca was interviewed twice for the podcast Pandemic Pulse, where she discussed her work and the media controversy surrounding it. You can listen to the first episode featuring Bianca here, and the follow up here.
Bianca attended Summer Studies in 2008, taking Biology of Cancer at Duke West. She credits her TIP experience for her interest in science. Bianca holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Harvard College, a Master of Science in Economics from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and a Master of Public Health from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. She expects to earn her Doctorate of Medicine from Stanford University in 2023.
Taylor Pigg was a junior at the University of Georgia when COVID-19 struck in early 2020. Along with other UGA students and alumni, Taylor helped form Feed the Frontlines GA, an organization that provides meals to frontline healthcare workers fighting COVID-19. Feed the Frontlines GA has a particular focus on serving workers in rural and under resourced hospitals throughout Georgia, and in their first month they raised over $30,000 and delivered 4,500 meals. The benefits of their mission are two-fold: they support frontline healthcare workers while also giving business to the local restaurants they order meals from. Taylor has also helped organize fundraising competitions among Georgia high schools and UGA fraternities and sororities to support Feed the Frontlines GA.
Taylor attended four Summer Studies Sessions from 2012 – 2015, taking Marine Biology: Estuaries and Marshes at New College of Florida and Criminal Minds: Psychology and the Law, Criminal Trial Advocacy, and Philosophy of Time at Duke East. She will begin her senior year at UGA this fall, studying Biology and Cellular Biology with a minor in Spanish.