What could be a better way to start your week than with a visit by a U.S. congressman to your class to personally hand you an award?
Briarcliff High School freshman Bianca Jain said she was confused when her parents, U.S. Rep Mike Lawler, Principal Diana Blank and Superintendent Jim Kaishian walked into her AP Computer Science class on Monday morning.
“I knew who Congressman Lawler was, but when he came to the class with my parents, I did not understand what was happening,” she said. “When he mentioned the Congressional App Challenge, it made more sense. I was really shocked, and I am really happy right now. I didn’t expect this.”
Bianca is the winner of the Congressional App Challenge for New York’s 17th Congressional District.
Bianca found inspiration for her app when she discovered someone that she knew had cancer.
“People said it is probably genetic, but I wanted to learn more about it and I realized that only a small percentage of people get cancer because of their genes, and that it is mostly because of a lifestyle,” she said. “I wanted to create an app that will help people have more awareness so that maybe they could prevent it.”
“Bianca shared her research with my husband and I, and then we came across the congressional challenge to create an app,” said Bianca’s mother, Anju. “That is how she decided to create an app that promotes awareness about different causes of cancer. Bianca reviewed the app with her computer science teacher, Chris Lo.”
The app is a series of questions that people can answer about their background and lifestyle.
“She wanted to disprove the norm that cancer is influenced by genetics, but rather is much more influenced by lifestyle,” Jain said. “Users can assess how high their risk could be. Bianca even had some teachers test the app and provide feedback.”
“It’s a win-win in the sense that she was learning more about preventing cancer, but also at the same time, using that knowledge to create social awareness,” said her father, Ashu. “Getting rewarded for it is the cherry on top.”
“The teachers at Briarcliff are very supportive and are good mentors,” Jain added. “Mr. Lo has been especially helpful to her. This is a close-knit community so I am very appreciative of the supportive environment at the school.”
Congressman Lawler visited Lo’s class and presented Bianca with the award.
He invited her to attend the award ceremony in April at the Capitol and also to come visit the Capitol at any time.