Samyak Shrimali, a sophomore at Jesuit High School in Southwest Portland, developed a software program that alerts hospital staff when they do not follow proper hygiene. Samyak’s work led to his recognition as one of America’s Top 10 Young Scientists in a competitive youth science and engineering competition. (Courtesy Jesuit High School)
Samyak Shrimali, a sophomore at Jesuit High School in Southwest Portland, developed a software program that alerts hospital staff when they do not follow proper hygiene. Samyak’s work led to his recognition as one of America’s Top 10 Young Scientists in a competitive youth science and engineering competition. (Courtesy Jesuit High School)

Four Jesuit High School sophomores are reaching for the stars by continuing to pursue their passion for service. “Despite the myriad challenges of COVID-19, these stellar students have maintained an astounding devotion to both the local and the global community through cancer research, care kits for the homeless, and health care technology,” said school leaders.

Since 2017, Darsh Mandera has been working with Reed College Professor Anna Ritz. His proficiency with machine learning programs has enabled Darsh to predict the effectiveness of specific drugs in combatting cancers, leading to an invitation to speak at the 28th Annual International Conference on Intelligent Systems for Molecular Biology last July.

“Using the power of technology to solve biological problems — even taking a step further in the journey to treat cancer — can help millions of patients who are suffering all around the world, and their families who are suffering with them,” said Darsh. “That’s what I love about science: It’s a tool to help, to save and to serve humanity.”

Meanwhile, sophomores Caitlin Thomas and Creighton Martz created a Portland chapter of Handle with Care.

The two friends presented their research to the board of the Los Angeles-based nonprofit. Thanks to their professional presentation, they received the board’s blessing to bring Handle with Care to Portland.

According to Caitlin, the organization’s mission is straightforward: to make those experiencing homelessness “feel human again” through personal connection and individual care kits. Thomas and Martz set out to raise $700, but soon raised 10 times that amount.

Last up is Samyak Shrimali, one of only six National Power of Children awardees in the United States. After his mother experienced an infection from a hospital visit, Samyak began researching and found that 1.7 million people suffer from hospital-acquired infections around the globe each year.

Samyak decided to work toward a solution. It turns out that insufficient hand-washing by hospital staff is a leading cause of infections. With the guidance of Dr. Mahfuza Ali, Samyak developed a software program that alerts hospital staff when they do not follow proper hygiene. Samyak’s work led to his recognition as one of America’s Top 10 Young Scientists in the 2019 Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge.

“The main skill I learned was empathy and compassion toward the millions of people who suffer from these infections every day,” said Samyak. “I developed the motivation to do something for my society and the rest of the world."

“We are so inspired by Darsh, Caitlin, Creighton, Samyak, and the hundreds of other Jesuit students who serve our region and our world, even in the most difficult of circumstances,” said Paul Hogan, principal of Jesuit.

Jesuit High School

9000 SW Beaverton-Hillsdale Hwy.

Portland 97225

503-292-2663

frontdesk@jesuitportland.org

jesuitportland.org

Grades: nine-12

Enrollment: 1,272

Tuition: $16,000

Financial aid available

Applications due: Jan. 15

Educating women and men for others in the Catholic, Jesuit tradition since 1956.