College application essays are required of every Ursuline senior but only Jennipher Martiena’s essay elicited a corporate response.
Her exceptional essay, The 4 Letter Word That Shaped My Life, chronicled her discovery of Legos at the age of six which led to her enthusiasm for engineering. Jennipher wrote, “Unlike my challenges with dyslexia in school, where letters switched themselves beyond my control, I found my Lego world was the perfect arena for me. I could invent race planes, imagine Lego mini-figures like Superman and Zod coming to life, or produce speeding motorcycles such as the Ducati Panigale. I discovered that these were not toys, but were the blueprints for learning about gears, mechanical parts and circuitry.”
Jennipher’s teacher, Ms. Cunningham, shared the essay with the Lego Group and received an almost immediate response. ”I was both thrilled to hear how great an impact our little bricks have made in your life, and impressed by your smooth and captivating writing!” wrote the Lego representative. “Your imagination and determination in learning and creating [that] has led you to be so accomplished.”
Jennipher’s tinkering with Legos inspired her exploration with engineering. She created her first prosthetic arm at Iridescent, an after-school program in the Bronx, and later enrolled in engineering webinars at Manhattan College. In her junior year, Jennipher participated in the Ace Mentorship Program, working with an engineering consultant and other students to design a hypothetical building for the Columbia University Campus.
This past year, Jennipher spent time using new tools in our school’s Innovation Hub. She completed our Engineering and Design course which offered the chance to use coding to manipulate a robot and learn how to use Computer-Aided Design (CAD) to construct a model house.
Throughout the hours of Lego construction and subsequent high school engineering assignments, Jennipher also demonstrated a growth mindset, which is a culture Ursuline actively promotes. Jennipher disclosed that, “The construction was not without problems. When I could not get the door to close properly, I was determined to find a solution. . . There was satisfaction in analyzing the problem and even more satisfaction in finding the solution. I wanted to learn more.”
Jennipher has decided to pursue engineering in college. She received a number of offers of admission and has chosen to attend Rochester Institute of Technology, to major in mechanical engineering technology. She is particularly interested in the automotive industry. She shares, “My passion is to make cars more aerodynamic so they consume less fuel on the road. In my dreams, I have already designed prototypes of electric vehicles that will fight against climate change. Who knows, maybe my new innovation will have its own Lego set for the next generation.”