Holy Trinity students recognized for their work


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Holy Trinity senior Stuti Mishra was honored as the Young Adult of the Month by the Melbourne Regional Chamber of Commerce. Mishra, who speaks four languages and wants to learn German or Spanish next, does a lot of volunteer work in the community. Photos by Carl Kotala

Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy students are making a name for themselves not only in Brevard County, but across the country.

Freshman Soy Choi was one of 30 national finalists who competed at the Broadcom MASTERS science and engineering fair in California’s Silicon Valley recently. Not only did she receive a second-place award in Engineering, she also received a heavenly prize.

On top of that, Soy and her younger sister, Ellen, have each received honors in the performing arts.

Cece Perkins, Adiya McDougal, Christy Chadwick and Katy Wacaster represented the school at the Florida Vocal Association’s Solo and Ensemble music performance assessment with three of them being honored as Excellent and one Superior. Wacaster will move on to the state Solo and Ensemble competition in the spring.

Then there was senior Stuti Mishra, who was recognized at the Melbourne Regional Chamber of Commerce Breakfast of Champions in December as the Young Adult of the Month.

“It was really surprising because there were lots of business people there and I got to meet a lot of them,” Mishra said. “Just listening to them speak and just being in their presence and receiving that [award] was truly an honor.”

Mishra gained national fame as an eighth grader when she finished second at the 2012 Scripps National Spelling Bee, but that’s hardly where her story ends. In addition to founding “Pronounce It!” a monthly library program designed to teach English pronunciation to immigrants, she also hosts “Saturdays with Stuti” at the West Melbourne Library where every other week she teaches the nuances of spelling and language to children and adults.

She’s been teaching the class since her freshman year and usually draws between 20 to 25 people each session with the children ranging in age from 6 to 13.

“We’ll talk about pasta words and say why they’re spelled the way they are. Like fettuccelle, why does it have two ‘t’s’ and two ‘c’s,’” Mishra said. “It’s because it’s Italian. For the kids, to make it fun, we talk about food, flowers, games, animals and the languages behind them.”

Holy Trinity Director of College Counseling, Alison Bell, called the 17-year-old “one of the most exceptional young women I have worked with in my 20-plus years in education.” Not only is Mishra on track to be Holy Trinity’s valedictorian, but with a weighted GPA of 4.85, she has the chance to have the highest GPA ever earned by a Holy Trinity student.

The Choi sisters, meanwhile, are on track to become highly decorated musicians. Holy Trinity seventh-grader Ellen Choi, left, and her older sister, Soy, both received a Superior score in String Solo and Ensemble as first-time participants in the District 10 Florida Orchestra Association’s Solo and Ensemble Music Performance Assessment.

Soy, who plays the violin and the viola, earned a spot in the prestigious All-State Concert Orchestra for 9th and 10th graders. It’s the highest performing ensemble in the state for string students in her grade.

She also earned a Superior score in String Solo and Ensemble as a first-time participant in the District 10 Florida Orchestra Association’s Solo and Ensemble Music Performance Assessment.

Ellen Choi, a seventh grader, also earned a Superior score and earned a spot in the All-State Middle School Honors Orchestra as a violinist.

The 12-year-old, who has been playing the violin for two years, initially wanted to do it because she was “jealous” of her sister. Now, she has a real affinity for not just the violin, but what a skilled performer can accomplish.

“I thought it was pretty amazing when I was young how violinists and musicians can create a totally new sound, like a new language with just one [instrument],” Ellen Choi said.

Language was the basis of Soy Choi’s science research project, which studied the effect bilingualism has on the cognitive development of adolescents.

“I had started the project because I grew up as a bilingual, and I remember not really enjoying learning a second language when I was younger,” said Soy, who also speaks Korean.

“Nowadays, I find it sort of useful. I was wondering how the capability to speak two languages had on student’s academic success.”

It was because of that project that Soy was chosen from among 300 semifinalists to travel to the Silicon Valley for the eight-day competition. The students were put into teams and judged based on how well they could solve different stem-related problems with their teammates, how well they collaborated, and in what areas they showed knowledge.

As part of the trip, they got to tour a Tesla factory, Google and to go out on the San Francisco Bay with members of the Marine Science Institute. 

“We got to analyze plankton and do different experiments on the boat,” Soy said. “And we were actually lucky enough to catch a baby shark. That was an interesting experience.”

As part of her second-place prize, Soy Choi received $3,000 (which she plans to use to attend a STEM-related summer camp), an iPad and a very special prize.

“I thought the most interesting award I got was a professor at MIT actually awarded us with a planet named after us at the Lincoln Laboratory at MIT,” Soy said. “Getting to have my own planet was one of the best awards.”