Russell's Life Beyond Racing
Academics are obviously very important to me, as I try to maintain a good grades and always improve everyday. I love learning in general, and also understand the opportunities that good academic performance can bring. I have been fortunate to always be part of challenging academic programs, such as the Hope program for gifted students at the James F. Murray School in Jersey City (P.S. 38), and the Acceleration Enrichment Program (A.E.P.) at Academy I Middle School. I attended The Hudson County Schools of Technology's High Tech High School in Bergen, NJ, where I was a part of the DFAB program. This is an engineering and design program for High School students, where students are able to concentrate on learning engineering and design concepts while taking advance placement high school courses. I've been concentrating in Automotive Engineering. I will be continuing my academic ambitions at the Rutgers University Honors College as a freshman in fall 2018.
More than just getting good grades, being part of programs like these has taught me, from an early age, to deal with challenges by managing my time and applying myself to the work. Of course, it helps that I love the learning part of it! I like to relate what I learn to the real world, not just to the classroom.
As seventh grader, my science teacher challenged me to take an original idea for the Science Fair, and take it as far as I could, thinking “outside the box.” My idea was to explore how robotic hands are made, and pose the question of whether robotic hands have to be complex in order to be efficient. The project helped me determine that such a hand does not have to be as complex as a real hand in order to carry out typical tasks. A simple hand—using less materials and needing a less complicated control system—is just as effective.
While in Middle School, I was honored to be inducted into the National Junior Honor Society. This is very special to me, not just because my academic achievements were recognized, but also because I was recognized as a well-rounded student.
The project won the Academy I Science Fair for the 7th grade, and placed second in the District Science Fair, then finally third place in the Hudson County Science Fair. It was featured in the Jersey Journal Internet page, which was a great thrill.
This is something that I hope to continue to explore in the future, since I think robotics technology will be heavily used in the future, and even today, helping people who need prosthetic devices, engineers developing medical devices, and other robotics applications.
My 8th grade Science Fair project focused on Automotive Technology, and dealt with developing a system to make car tires more efficient by manipulating how they react to the physical forces acting on them.
These forces make tires change the angle at which they contact the road (camber), which reduces the amount of grip they can provide.
As a go-kart racer myself, I can really understand this problem and can feel these forces and changes taking place when driving.
This is a picture of the actual testing device. This was one of the most fun and exciting projects I’ve ever done, and I learned so much by doing it. Not only did I learn a lot about physics and how they relate to something I love doing, but also I learned how to work and “get my hands dirty” taking a concept from idea to reality!
Civics and Community
People to People Ambassador Program
While in the 5th grade, I was nominated by my teacher to take part in the People to People Ambassador Programs, and so I was able to go to the Word Leadership Forum in Washington, D.C.
As a Student Leader, I was able to spend time with other kids from all over the world, touring our Nation’s capital and attending several events in which we learned about civic duty, national leadership and diplomacy. We participated in forums and activities in which our opinions were asked, and even got to meet and spend time with the Ambassador of Saudi Arabia.
I've also participated in the Jersey City Public Schools Student Leadership Forum. This forum also taught me about the responsibility of being a student leader.
Doing well academically means that I will hopefully have certain opportunities in life that others may not have. Because of this, it is important to know that it’s up to us to help those who may not have those opportunities, and be responsible to contribute to a better community.
At P.S. 38 in Jersey City, I worked at the C.A.S.P.E.R. after-school program. C.A.S.P.E.R. stands for Children’s After School Program for Education and Recreation. My responsibilities included helping elementary kids with homework and other activities, and assisting the C.A.S.P.E.R. teachers and facilitators with various tasks.
I always try to find opportunities to serve my community. I was part of a district-wide initiative to help clean up public parks in Jersey City during the fall of 2013, and we helped restore the landscaping at one of the parks. I had a great time working and being useful alongside my classmates and friends.
Most importantly, as a breast cancer co-survivor (my mother), I was glad to have the opportunity to support her by taking part in the Jersey City Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk in October. Our team, Pink Lighting, was able to raise a significant amount of money that will go towards efforts to win this fight. I am proud to have been a part of that!