STEAM Towards a Healthier World

Pooja Thorali

Bellevue HS, WA

Senior (2019-2020)

Career Goals:

I firmly believe that as a person, you continue to learn about yourself day by day. As I've continued to grow as a person, I've increasingly found my passion for helping others and medicine through various organizations. I want to contribute to this world by making it a better place and to visually see the effects I have on people. Throughout high school, I've always been amazed by surgery. Sure, Grey's Anatomy isn't an accurate representation of what that field looks like, but I was always amazed by what the surgeons did. Usually, when you see someone you like, your pupils dilate. That's how it is with me and surgery. It's amazing. I want to work somewhere where I can build healthy relationships with my coworkers and patients while learning about medicine and the amazing human body. I want to continue learning about the phenomenon that is the human body. Even though the route to becoming a surgeon is long and tough, it’s important to me that my career is something that I don’t regard as work but more of doing something I love.


What did you learn from this course?

This experience has been completely mind-opening and something I will not forget in my life. First, we were fortunate enough to be able to attend the anatomy boot camp at Seattle Science Foundation. The world-class surgeons there enlightened us with advice that I’ll never forget in my life and I got to watch/do small surgeries on cadaveric specimens. In addition, I cannot forget to add the many guest speakers that STEAM bought in. As high schoolers, a lot of the time we’re brought up in an environment where going into science limits us to only becoming doctors or scientists. What I gained most out of this experience is that there’s a world of possibilities out there. Many of the guest speakers took completely different routes but ended up where they’re meant to be. I think this experience was surreal because it helped us realize that there’s no reason to be scared of the future and if we just follow our hearts, we’ll end up where we’re supposed to be. Furthermore, we got to explore the future of medicine, P4 medicine, and how it may change healthcare in the future. Talking about the loopholes of our current healthcare system and by exciting us about the future of healthcare made us realize that there’s so much more to hospitals than just patients and doctors. Last but not least, we had an amazing opportunity to display our knowledge from the course with our showcase project, where I got to dive deeper into my interest- cancer.


What advice do you have for future Ambassadors?

I would say to have an open mind when going into this program. STEAM covers so much in so little time and it’s important that a future Ambassador goes in wanting to learn and be engaged with the activities that the course has. I would also definitely advise to reach out to people whose job/career pathways you find interesting or just for questions! They are happy to answer any questions, but it’s up to the student to have that courage and reach out.

– Showcase Project –

"Lettuce Celebrate Our Colons"

Who/What inspired this project?

Classically, cancer is something that no one ever wants to hear about or get. Unfortunately, it is one of the deadliest diseases on the planet and we still haven’t found a cure to it even with all the new technology and advancements. Marne Anderson, a colon cancer survivor graciously came to ISB and talked to us about her inspiring journey with colon cancer. She emphasized how it was more of the outside factors that contributed to her developing the disease. I was inspired to research more about what people can do to lower their risk of getting colon cancer, especially. Even though colon cancer can be genetic, many people make themselves prone to the disease because of their lifestyle and diet. I was curious as to determine the different types of factors that could contribute to or prevent the risk of developing colon cancer.

How does your project communicate the relationship between the environment and health?

My project communicates the relationship between environment and health because what a person puts into their body is a vital factor in one’s health.

One has the choice to learn about what is good for them and the negative effects that unhealthy factors have on him/her. With many fast and accessible food industries booming, it is important to remind ourselves that our bodies are temples, and we should respect it. When you’re good to your body, it will be good for you. The human body is amazing and it’s our responsibility to take care of it.

Who is your target audience?

My target audience is everyone, but especially those between the ages of 22-45, as studies have shown an increased risk of colon cancer in this age group due in part to access to many cheap & unhealthy foods and bad lifestyle choices. This age range is also a prominent time in which people can shape their future health, therefore they should learn about what they are putting in their body and educate themselves on how to be a healthier person.

As an Ambassador, how do you plan to share your message with your target audience?

As an ambassador, I think it’s important that a lot of my message is shared by verbal communication. Talking to my family and friends during community gatherings is an effective way to spread my message directly. People are more likely to engage with someone they know well and to take seriously the need to take better care of their body with healthier habits.