For Jack Randall, many of his future plans push towards his love of STEM and making a positive change in the biomedical industry as soon as he can.

The valedictorian of St. Sebastian’s School in Needham spoke fondly about his decision to go to a private high school and his journey to choosing his biomedical engineering major at the Georgia Institute of Technology next fall.

At St. Sebastian’s, Randall was drawn into the close-knit environment and community at his high school.

“The teachers really care about all the students,” he said. “There are a lot of great people there.”

Though he initially considered working to become a doctor and attending medical school after college, he later found himself instead interested in medicine and biomedical engineering.

He believes that will allow him to get involved in the industry as soon as possible, rather than spend additional years in medical school.

Specifically, Randall is interested in neuroengineering and “using certain medical devices and brain scans to help prevent neurodegenerative diseases, like Alzheimer’s and dementia, because I have members of my family who suffer from that and I would want to give back in some way and have a meaningful career,” he said.

Sparking an interest

One teacher in particular who helped spark his interested in STEM was his math teacher, Richard Palmaccio, with whom he took AP Calc BC and Multivariable Calculus his junior and senior years, respectively.

Randall found himself especially passionate about his Multivariable class, in which there was only him and one other student.

“You weren’t studying for an AP test… you were studying to learn the material… and we could follow certain things that were interesting to us,” he said.

Palmaccio also inspired him.

“He’s probably one of the most knowledgeable teachers I’ve ever had,” he said. “You can ask him a question about anything… and his passion for the subject he teaches made me want to learn more about it, too.”

Once he had an idea of what he wanted to study, Randall began looking at colleges.

“I made a list of schools and I knew that I wanted to do biomedical engineering, so I thought I’d look up the best schools for biomedical engineering,” he said. “I saw Georgia Tech and I [at first] didn’t know anything about it.”

A campus visit in the summer of 2018 cemented the deal.

Expecting to study abroad

One program in particular, studying abroad in Argentina, particularly stood out to him, as it would allow him to not only get a view into another country’s medical industry, but also be exposed to a new culture. The opportunity to use Spanish — he was president of his high school’s Spanish National Honors Society — was also appealing.

“I’ve never lived in another country for six months, or however long it is, and being exposed to a different culture and a different way of thinking,” he said.

Though Georgia is far from his hometown of Foxboro, where he said he has lived for “pretty much my whole life,” Randall is excited to travel south, study in a new place and meet new people.

Beyond schoolwork, he’s also hoping to pursue club athletics, like running, at school. Randall spent four years in high school playing squash and playing in a competitive league, usually traveling to other schools to practice, as his high school didn’t get their own squash court until the fall 2018.

Mostly, though, Randall is excited about the opportunities ahead, where they may lead, and what he hopes he can bring to an evolving medical industry.

When asked about career goals, he said he wanted to make a difference.

“I’m not completely sure, but hopefully I’ll be doing something that has a positive impact, not just a regular old office job,” he said. “I want to do something that’s actually going to help improve people’s lives, whatever that may be.”

And his advice for incoming high schoolers: “Make the most of your time in high school as it’s going to fly by quickly; at the same time work as hard as you can and that will open up opportunities for you.”

Jeff Peterson is publisher of The Sun Chronicle and can be reached at 508-236-0314.

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