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Featured Alumni Q&A: Ava Soleimany ‘12

Ava graduated from MIT in 2016 and for the last three years has been teaching Introduction to Deep Learning at the college with her collegue, Alexander Amini. The course covers the technical foundations of deep learning and its societal implications through lectures and software labs focused on real-world applications. To read more, click here.

What is your proudest accomplishment since graduating from Sage Hill School?

First, I’m proud of the balance I have in my life, in terms of my scientific and academic pursuits, my relationships, and my personal well being. Second, I’m proud to be in a position where I feel that I can have an impact through both my research contributions to the scientific community and through my teaching and mentorship. In both cases, what I am most proud of is the hard work I put in to get there.

What about your experience at Sage Hill prepared you for what you are doing now?
At Sage Hill I was able to develop a strong work ethic and to really devote myself fully to my academic and extracurricular pursuits. That work ethic and passion has carried me throughout my academic training. I absolutely love the process of working hard on driving a research project from inception to completion — the pursuit itself is the most thrilling part! Sage Hill was the first place where I was really able to experience and appreciate that journey.

What about your Sage Hill experience impacted the person you are today? This could be a favorite class, a person, a club, etc:
Everything, truly! In particular though, I was deeply involved with athletics (girls’ varsity tennis and girls’ varsity basketball), the Honor Committee, and math and science research and outreach. Those experiences had a great impact on my determination and grit, my empathy and integrity, and my intellectual curiosity and drive, and have been absolutely fundamental to how I’ve developed as a scientist and leader.

If you could share one piece of advice to current Sage Hill students, what would it be?
Challenge yourself to push your own boundaries — whatever that means for you. You’ll learn so much about yourself in the process and realize you are capable of things you never thought possible.
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