May 22, 2014 in Washington Voices

Mead senior Theresa Sievert has a future in bioengineering

By The Spokesman-Review
Colin Mulvany photoBuy this photo

Theresa Sievert, a 4.0 student from Mead, plans to study bioengineering to find new ways to help those with mental illness.
(Full-size photo)

Not many high school students have completed coursework with NASA and planned a mission to Mars – but Theresa Sievert has.

As a junior, the 4.0 Mead student took an online class as part of the Washington Aerospace Scholars program. “The classes are put on by NASA through the University of Washington,” Sievert said.

As a result of her participation, she was chosen for a residency program at the Museum of Flight in Seattle. At that camp she was selected Systems Manager team leader and helped her team prepare for their human mission to Mars. She said their mission was just OK. They planned a little too long, but “we made it work, and it was fun,” she said.

She also attended a science and engineering camp at UW and worked with a mentor from Boeing. “I got to work in the Boeing lab and make carbon fiber parts.”

Sievert has already been accepted to Stanford University, which is no surprise to the staff and teachers at Mead. Christina Thomas, administrative assistant, said, “Theresa is mature beyond her years. She’s well-grounded and smart. Her senior schedule includes AP Biology, AP Calculus, AP Government, AP Literature and college-level biochemistry.”

In her biochemistry class Sievert said they produced synthetic banana flavoring and baked banana bread with it. They also created aspirin. They weren’t allowed to try either, she said, laughing.

If science is Sievert’s love, then music is her passion. She plays alto-sax and bassoon, and has participated in marching band, pep band and concert band throughout her high school years. She also performs with Spokane Youth Symphony.

“Music is so much fun,” she said. “It de-stresses me.”

And it will always be part of her life. Though she plans to major in bioengineering at Stanford, she wants to minor in music. “It’s a great social outlet,” she said.

Bioengineering fascinates her. Sievert said she’d like to study the human brain and drug delivery methods and perhaps find new ways to help those with mental illness. Her interest is a profoundly personal one.

A relative’s alcoholism gave Sievert an up-close look at the consequences of addiction.

“It prompted my studies,” she said. Sievert is eager to continue those studies at Stanford. “I’m looking forward to being on my own,” she said. “I’m ready to be independent and start my life.”

Thomas has no doubt about Sievert’s future success. She said, “She’s going on to do great things.”

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