By Nance Ebert, Contributing Writer
WESTBOROUGH – Westborough High School sophomore Olivia Yoonseo Lee and her three other team members recently won the Go Red for Women: Boston Tech Innovation Challenge run by the American Heart Association and Dell Technologies.
Each of the four girls was presented with a certificate of recognition as well as a Dell computer for their work developing an app that streamlined the process of scheduling a COVID-19 vaccine appointment for older adults, among other things.
Lee credits her participation to Christina Crowley, the chair of the Go Red Campaign, who she learned about while reading a previous feature story in the Community Advocate about the program.
“She shared her personal experience after suffering a stroke due to a heart defect and inspired others like me,” Lee said. “It was thanks to women like her that I had the courage to even participate in a project like this, and I am so glad I did.”
The project that won Lee and her teammates this award was called Team COVID Vaccine Registration. It involved researching ways to gather data and report open appointments for those who were not able to.
“Senior citizens were a large group of a population that appeared to have quite a bit of difficulty with the technology needed to sign up for vaccine appointments,” Lee said. “With our mentors, we collected research based on areas and tried to report open appointments for older members of the community.”
Each team had two mentors. One was from Dell, while the other was from the American Heart Association. The team met every Friday afternoon with their mentors via Zoom.
“I got to work with amazing female scientists and pursue in-depth research,” Lee said. “I want to keep pursuing science and I should never feel discouraged.”
She continued, “One frustrating thing for me is that we can’t code yet. We would need to recognize factors like an address, time, location and more in order to implement the design.”
Since this challenge focused on healthcare, Lee reflected on the ways her grandmother, who worked as a pharmacist, inspired her.
“My grandma has said that, with the help of computer technology, her job would have been quite a bit easier,” Lee said.
Lee’s teammates included Diana Nguyen, Ama Sesah and Sarah Looney. All were high school juniors from Massachusetts towns. There was an application process for selection and members of each team were assigned to the same group based on areas of health technology.
In the future, Lee wants to be a scientist or science teacher and has been so inspired to join efforts towards girls education.
“I do hope we can continue our project and perhaps with changed goals,” Lee said in an interview last month. “Even with better conditions for the pandemic, there’s still a lot that even local high school students like us can do to help.”