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“It may seem daunting at first to take on something so monumental, but honestly, once I took the first step and signed up, all the pieces fell into place. I would advise other ACE athletes to not hesitate but just dive right in.”

No matter how much planning and preparation goes into it, sometimes even the best game plan needs to change. This is true in sports, preparing a class lesson, leading kids’ games, and – as Isabella Duan realized – implementing an effective ACE Action Plan. So when Isabella realized that her original Action Plan wasn’t going to align with new team circumstances, she reevaluated the situation, adjusted her course, and surged ahead with a whole new project. It was called “We’ve All Got Herpes: An Intro to Virology.”

child and female student-athlete dancing outside

“Immediately after ACE ended, I had aimed to extend my enthusiasm for service to my teammates.” However, by the time she returned to campus, her team captains had already started a different service initiative. “I didn’t want to undermine their efforts by distracting everyone with a service opportunity of my own.”

With her team already engaged in another group service project, Isabella decided to instead focus on education. The details of her new Action Plan came together when she visited the Student Activities Fair. That’s where she discovered Splash, a teaching extravaganza taught by Stanford students to local high school students. At the fair, she started speaking with the director of Splash, who encouraged her to expand on her tentative idea to teach about virology.

group of female rowers rowing outside

“The day that I taught the class ranks among the best of my time in college thus far; I couldn’t stop grinning afterwards. Imparting information and enthusiasm and building on the questions and feedback of a live audience suffused me with such a unique joy and profound feeling of accomplishment that I find myself seeking future opportunities to instruct…”

While teaching during ACE, she realized how important it is that information is presented to students in a tangible way. “Over the summer, we had used games and materials like balloons, stickers, and bowling pins to capture students’ attentions and accompany the knowledge that we were imparting. I recognized that models could be used in my Splash class in a similar way.”

child and female student-athlete dancing outside

Isabella’s class lesson revolved around the creation of a herpes virion model, made of everyday household materials – a basketball, an empty can, Borax, and glue to name a few. The Borax and glue were combined with hot water to create “slime,” a moldable substance that had been a recent Instagram sensation. “Connecting learning to popular trends and hands on activities really garnered my students’ interests and had them focused on the material I was teaching throughout the duration of the class.”

“The day that I taught the class ranks among the best of my time in college thus far; I couldn’t stop grinning afterwards. Imparting information and enthusiasm and building on the questions and feedback of a live audience suffused me with such a unique joy and profound feeling of accomplishment that I find myself seeking future opportunities to instruct – again through Splash, over the course of an entire summer during my undergraduate time, or even as part of my professional career.”

In preparation for Splash, Isabella attended teacher training sessions, planned her lecture material, bought virion modeling supplies, and even baked cookies for her students. But the biggest challenge, she says, was just getting started.

children talking at table

“It may seem daunting at first to take on something so monumental, but honestly, once I took the first step and signed up, all the pieces fell into place. I would advise other ACE athletes to not hesitate but just dive right in.”