Ella Pace, a senior at Hot Springs World Class High School, recently received the 2021 Youth Challenger Award for the state of Arkansas from Arkansans for Gifted and Talented Education.
The award is given annually to honor and recognize one Arkansas student who risked taking an unusual step in a direction most people would not consider.
Pace was nominated for her Education Accelerated by Service and Technology cerebral studies project, which creates 3D printouts of brain tumors for patients undergoing surgery to “bridge the educational gap” between doctor and patient.
Pace said the idea came to her and her EAST partner Madeline Scott after a friend was diagnosed with a “false” brain tumor. Doing the project allowed her to be the first person in Arkansas to successfully 3D print a brain tumor.
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“I believe Ella Pace’s cerebral studies project demonstrates her willingness to take creative and innovative steps in expanding her original project idea in a new direction,” Laura West, gifted and talented coordinator for the Hot Springs School District, said in a letter to the award committee.
“Because of Ella’s creativity and commitment to learning, she is helping cancer patients better understand their diagnosis while overcoming all the challenges that went into learning new technology in order to do it,” she said in the letter.
Pace said she found out about the nomination through West.
“When I got the email that I won, I was shocked because I had heard from (West) that there was some pretty stiff competition,” Pace said.
The Youth Challenger award is to recognize someone who does something outside of the box, she said.
Pace started a business, which started as an EAST project with Scott and John Stokes, former HSWCHS EAST facilitator.
“Our project started off as cerebral studies. We were 3D printing exact replicas of patients’ brain tumors. After the project, we got some recognition through EAST, and so we decided to turn it into a business,” Pace said.
“I feel like it was a really good growing experience for all of us. I’m planning on doing international business. It was really nice to kind of get my feet wet with the business,” she said.
“I think the main feature of the experience was just learning about all this stuff and going through the process because that’s not really something that you learn in any classes until you get pretty far into your education,” Pace said.
Pace said her senior year has not been ideal, noting, “Things are a lot different. It was kind of a nice highlight for the end of senior year to get recognition for all the hard work that went into it.”
Pace said she included her winning the award on all 26 of her college applications, seven of which are ivy league schools.
“Having an award like that is really helpful for resume building and being able to submit it as supplemental material; I feel like it will help me a lot with the college application process to kind of stand out,” Pace said.
Depending on where Pace goes to college for her undergraduate degree, she wants to go into sociology and finance, which are kind of a mixture between sociology, technology, psychology, and finance.
“Some of those schools have flexible major programs. I’ll be able to kind of do all of that at once, and eventually, I want to do international business. I’ll probably go back and get my MBA,” Pace said.
“The international part of the business that’s all because of (the International Baccalaureate). I feel like it really broadens your perspective,” she said.
“In English, most of the works that we’ve studied have been works in translation. So getting that global perspective from IB has definitely made an impact on my mindset and what I want to do later in life,” Pace said.
Pace will find out in April what college or colleges she got into, she said.
Pace said she has always gravitated toward the entrepreneurial side through the EAST program, noting that when she was in the seventh grade, she started a prosthetic hand project she 3D printed.
“I think what I really liked was the idea of helping people through the creation of a process and a business, and I feel like doing business will allow me to make an impact that way,” Pace said.