Super Seniors

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Super Seniors

Taylor Farley, Saloni Gupta and Stuti Vishwabhan are proud leaders in the Pres community.

Taylor Farley, Saloni Gupta and Stuti Vishwabhan are proud leaders in the Pres community.

Photo by Stephanie Blankley

Taylor Farley, Saloni Gupta and Stuti Vishwabhan are proud leaders in the Pres community.

Photo by Stephanie Blankley

Photo by Stephanie Blankley

Taylor Farley, Saloni Gupta and Stuti Vishwabhan are proud leaders in the Pres community.

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Ever find yourself in need of a little extra inspiration? Perhaps a new role model? Well, look no further! Our very own Pres community is full of superstar students including seniors Taylor Farley, Saloni Gupta and Stuti Vishwabhan.

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Mission Drive is a very busy time for Taylor Farley. Every year she sells her delicious baked goods to help raise money for the sisters in Nicaragua and Guatemala.

It all started in 2014 when Farley was asked to be the Mission Drive representative for her sophomore homeroom. She baked a quick batch of brownies to begin but soon took note of the popular demand and made more. As she sold more and more, Farley decided to bake different kinds of brownies in order to keep her customers interested. And thus, the famous (or infamous, depending on your perspective) “promiscuous brownie” was born.

In her sophomore year, Farley collected around $500 from selling brownies at $1 each. That figure was easily tripled during her junior year when she made over $1500.

With hundreds of brownies to bake each week, these sales have certainly put a strain on Farley’s schedule. “It’s especially hard during soccer season,” Farley said. She usually bakes on the weekends for as much as six or seven hours a day, including cooking time.

On top of that, she bakes for two to three hours on weeknights. “I just make the time,” Farley said. “I’ll mix something up and put it in the oven, do homework while it’s cooking and then take them out. I plan my work around the baking.”

This year, Farley is making Mission Drive her platinum project, which is service oriented and different from a capstone. She has teamed up with fellow senior Adriana Neimeyer to promote and educate the Presentation community on fair trade. Now Farley will be adding “Fair Trade Fridays” to the sale, where all of the brownies sold on Fridays are made with fair trade chocolate and sugar.

“It’s great that we are helping the nuns with the money from Mission Drive, but it’s also important to make sure we’re promoting fair trade goods,” Farley said. “And that’s why I decided to make the bake sales my platinum project.”

***

While Taylor works on her platinum project during Mission Drive, Saloni Gupta has been making a difference in the lives of teens with her capstone project. Aimed at juniors and seniors, Gupta’s project creates workshops that teach life skills to students who don’t otherwise get a chance to learn during school. “It’s great that we know how to use the Pythagorean Theorem,” Gupta said. “But not many of us know how to do taxes.”

Gupta’s idea for the project first arose when she cut herself while shaving one day. She was home alone and did not know what to do to stop the gushing blood. Gupta then called her mother for help, and her mother had only one thing to say: “What are you going to do in college?”

Soon after that experience, Gupta found herself in another predicament. She tried to iron a dress shirt but did not know how to do it properly and ended up with more wrinkles than she started with. Gupta said, “I thought of these little experiences and thought that there should be a class that would teach us these things.”

Earlier this year, Gupta sent out a survey asking for the student body’s interest in taking these classes. The most popular topics were chosen to make into actual workshops for this semester. These topics include financing, healthy cooking and meal planning, and public image and interview skills.

Even though she will be graduating this year, Gupta hopes that her project will not leave with her. “It would be great if someone would take this up and make it a regular deal for more students to learn,” Gupta said.

The workshops will be taught by teachers in an effort to educate students on little things that are necessary in life. “We’re trying to get a lot of fun and quirky teachers,” Gupta said. “These workshops will be both useful and enjoyable.”

***

Stuti Vishwabhan is another leader in our community. Her organization, Teach Seniors Technology, is designed to educate the older crowd in modern technology.

Vishwabhan founded the program in February of 2013 after her grandmother visited from India. They were having a conversation about a Hindi TV show and her grandmother asked for the name of one of the actors. Vishwabhan told her to look for the answer on the Internet, only to find that she did not know how.

From that incident, Vishwabhan began to teach her grandmother the basics of computers. She started with creating login information to get into the computer, and now her grandmother has her own Facebook account where she knows how to post comments on Vishwabhan’s pictures.

“That experience with my grandmother taught me that there might be other grandparents out there that might want to learn technology,” Vishwabhan said. “Especially if they live far away, they may want to Skype or FaceTime with their relatives.”

Over the past three years, Teach Seniors Technology has greatly expanded, teaching over 350 seniors so far. What started with just Vishwabhan now has about 50 volunteers. There are ten centers here in the Bay Area, one in Illinois and some as far as China, Singapore and India. Vishwabhan is also making efforts to expand into Australia.

Recently, the organization was 501(c)3 certified, which means it is registered with the secretary of the state of California as a nonprofit corporation for public benefit.

Vishwabhan will soon be receiving the annual San Jose Honoree Award for her program. The commendation will be given by Mayor Sam Liccardo and District 10 Councilmember Johnny Khamis. Eight volunteers will be on stage with Vishwabhan to receive the award, including Presentation junior Swathi Ramprasad. Presentation juniors Sanjana Garg and Kaitlynn Sierra are also active leaders in the organization and will be honored as being part of TST.

“I am truly honored and humbled to receive this award,” Vishwabhan said. “I think it’s a testament to all the hard work TST volunteers put into the community in order to make an impact on senior citizens.”

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