Ava Sanjabi, a senior at the School for Advanced Studies, is SAS’s Silver Knight nominee in the area of science.
Sanjabi has 500 official volunteer hours but she never logged the hours for her own service project. If she did, she’d have earned more than 1,000.
The project is called Green in the Golden Age. The project helped seniors who live at The Palace in Kendall. Sanjabi and her friends and other students she and her friends recruited went to The Palace to beautify the gardens and spend time with the residents.
“We tried to get the residents to plant with us,” she says.
One thing they discovered is that while the spirit was willing, the bodies were weak.
“Their mobile capacity is not to the point where they could bend over and dig,” she says. “They would still come out, observe and talk to us.”
The idea was to visit the residents so their days wouldn’t be so monotonous, and they could experience something different.
Sanjabi says they went Saturday mornings and to get the residents outside on beautiful days.
“We would go to different sections of the garden on different days,” she says. “They like being outside in the garden because they are inside so much.”
They even had a plan for rainy days.
“If it was raining, we played board games, dominos, cards, and Connect 4,” she says. “We’d go during their bingo hour. They enjoy the interactive aspect of our visits.”
However, sometimes when someone reaches a great age, they revert to young behavior.
“We would play go fish and one of them would not give up her card,” she says.
The last time they went to The Palace was about a month ago, before Covid 19 became a crisis.
Sanjabi says she wanted to do the project because a lot of the seniors don’t have people to visit them.
“Their children visit them once a month. That’s not enough, so we try to supplement,” she says.
Previous to the Green in the Golden Age project, she also did environmentally responsive volunteer projects. She volunteered at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden.
While at Terra High School, she was a member of the service club, Interact. The members helped clean the Deering Estate grounds after Hurricane Irma.
“Deering was a mess. The water had come up like three feet,” she says.
She moved from Terra to SAS because of the dual enrollment feature and the opportunities presented.
Those opportunities have led to an acceptance to Columbia University where she will take STEM courses. Currently, her major is chemistry but she’s already considering a shift to math or chemical engineering.
When she was younger, she wanted to be an astronaut. She also wants to go into neuroscience because she has relatives who suffer from neurological problems.
At SAS, Sanjabi is president of the student government. She’s vice president of Science Olympiad.
“We won the regional for the Science Olympiad,” she says. “Unfortunately, States were cancelled.”
She’s also the activities director for both Science National Honor Society and Social Studies Honor Society.
“We had a caucus set up like the Iowa caucuses,” she says. “We had different students representing different candidates.”
She said it was important to the organizers that the students understand the actual policies.
Sanjabi is a member of Mu Alpha Theta, the English Honor Society and the National Honor Society.
She’s also artistic, making her own jewelry and painting using acrylics or oil on canvas.