U-High Midway

Determination that extends beyond the classroom

PUTTING+IN+THE+WORK.+Sana+Shahul%2C+a+sophomore%2C+works+on+her+math+homework+in+the+high+school+library.+Sana+is+an+active+member+of+the+U-High+community+with+her+commitment+to+computer+science.+She+is+also+active+in+solving+the+problems+she+sees+in+the+world.+Her+charity%2C+%E2%80%9CMission+Blue+Aqua%E2%80%9D%2C+works+to+create+biofilters+to+ensure+safer+water+for+the+people+of+Haiti.+
PUTTING IN THE WORK. Sana Shahul, a sophomore, works on her math homework in the high school library. Sana is an active member of the U-High community with her commitment to computer science. She is also active in solving the problems she sees in the world. Her charity, “Mission Blue Aqua”, works to create biofilters to ensure safer water for the people of Haiti.

PUTTING IN THE WORK. Sana Shahul, a sophomore, works on her math homework in the high school library. Sana is an active member of the U-High community with her commitment to computer science. She is also active in solving the problems she sees in the world. Her charity, “Mission Blue Aqua”, works to create biofilters to ensure safer water for the people of Haiti.

Odysseas Nikas

Odysseas Nikas

PUTTING IN THE WORK. Sana Shahul, a sophomore, works on her math homework in the high school library. Sana is an active member of the U-High community with her commitment to computer science. She is also active in solving the problems she sees in the world. Her charity, “Mission Blue Aqua”, works to create biofilters to ensure safer water for the people of Haiti.

Grace Zhang, Arts Editor

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As she gets into the car with her mom, Sana Shahul looks forward to the drive. Often on Sundays, Sana and her mom take drives to McDonald’s for a snack when they are stressed. Sana said she cherishes the memories of these drives and spending quality time with her mom. Sana and her mom talk about stresses in her life from academics to goals.

“You can do whatever you want to do,” Sana’s mom responded, in an effort to relieve stress. “You just have to believe in yourself, and I will always believe in you.”

For Sana, those words have driven her to keep going and overcome obstacles. She not only has passions in service learning and computer science, but also dedicates herself to helping others.

During summer 2016 Sana went with her mother to Deschapelles, Haiti. Her mom, an obstetrician-gynecologist, worked with pregnant women who suffer from high blood pressure, which leads to high maternal mortality rates. Sana was shocked that people in Deschapelles had only one drinking water source, a highly contaminated river. 

Seeing that many Haitians had died from outbreaks of Cholera, a bacterial disease in the intestine, moved Sana.

“I came back to America, and I wanted to do something,” Sana said. “You see, like, kids — 4, 14 like me — and right then, you know they don’t have any as much as the opportunities I have.”

With the help of her mom, she created the Mission Blue Aqua group, seven U-High girls who meet outside school to create fundraisers to build biosand filters. These slow sand filters eliminate bacteria and viruses for those in Haiti. The group raised $5,500 last year and partnered with Hôpital Albert Schweitzer Haiti to build and install 55 large filters for communities. 

When Sana went back to Haiti in summer 2017 to check on the progress after installing biosand filters, Cholera outbreak rates had decreased 25 percent in Deschapelles. She and the Mission Blue Aqua members were in awe and excited to be able to create a positive change in the lives of the kids in Haiti.

Sophomore Elena Stern, Sana’s friend who is also vice president of Mission Blue Aqua, said Sana “has power with every step she takes by using her kindness to achieve anything and to help her friends do the same. To Sana nothing is impossible.”

Outside of school and Mission Blue Aqua, Sana is on the varsity teams for cross country, basketball and track. Sana also has a passion for computer science. Initially, taking Intro to Computer Science was an obstacle for Sana. She had trouble understanding the material, so she set up weekly meetings with teacher Daniel Wheadon.

“I was just at my house one day,” Sana said, “and finally it was like the gears just clicked as I was doing the homework and it all started making sense to me.”

Ever since, Sana’s passion for computer science developed, leading to something she can use to help herself. 

Over the summer, she created the app Mind Training, developed to help kids train their cochlear ear implants to hear again by playing phonetically engineered words. Sana herself lost hearing in her left ear and received a cochlear implant that she trained to hear by watching “Grey’s Anatomy” episodes everyday.

Sana finds support and encouragement to hone in on her interests from her mother as well as Thomas Edison’s words: “I have not failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”  

“Even if I don’t have a hundred percent confidence in myself, someone else does,” Sana said. “That gives you all the push you need to be successful.”

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Determination that extends beyond the classroom