Lila BALISTRIERI '18, Student

Lila BALISTRIERI ’18 is exploring her passions surrounding accessibility, public health, and the financial world at the University of Rochester. A Handler Scholar, she is triple majoring in English, Anthropology, and Medical Innovation and is also a research assistant at the university. At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Lila interned with ApiJect Systems America, Inc., a corporation that focuses on developing safer ways to deliver injectable medication to communities worldwide. Learn more about Lila and how she’s bringing her many interests to the table to make an impact at Rochester and beyond.
Years at Ellis
Grade 10 to Grade 12
B.A. Honors in English, B.A. Honors in Anthropology, B.A. in Medical Innovation, Minor in Statistics, University of Rochester (anticipated spring 2022)
Rochester, NY

What was your internship and how did you get started?
Amidst the current COVID-19 pandemic, I had the exciting opportunity to intern in a public health advocacy position with ApiJect Systems America, Inc. In my role, I researched and developed a public health campaign relevant to certain states of India, to address multi-dose vial safety. Acting as a point of contact for healthcare networks overseas and working closely with members at the World Health Organization, I analyzed  a need for efficient injection practices in India and aid in creating future practices that can combat the challenges of the pandemic and safely welcome the introduction of the COVID-19 vaccine. 

At the same time I was interning with ApiJect, I was also a research assistant for the University of Rochester, remotely analyzing archives and data files surrounding China and the impact of COVID-19. It was fascinating to see how insight gained from my experience with ApiJect could be intertwined into my work with the COVID-19 databases of the university. At the end of my research, an article of my work was featured in Information Advisor, a business journal.

What lessons did your internship teach you?
My internship with ApiJect allowed me to be a part of the real-life change that often goes unrecognized. I learned that the little steps needed to make injectable medicines safe entail deep thought and immense effort from a multitude of disciplines. It taught me to value teamwork and understand how to drive success together. 

What do you enjoy most about the work you did?
What I loved most about the work I did with ApiJect was that I was able to learn how to effectively study a community and its needs, even from across the world. I was able to take what I learned in my ApiJect position and apply it to my involvement in my Rochester community. As a Community Engagement Scholar on campus, I continue my appreciation of service by participating in community-engaged learning seminars and a capstone project in response to community-identified needs.

Is there a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career, academic or otherwise?
One project that I consider to be the most significant since starting college has been winning the Ain Center for Entrepreneurship’s Creative Collision Challenge Award. I researched, developed, and proposed an actionable plan of a mobile feature called “URescue” which allows University of Rochester students to easily contact the Department of Public Safety in times of emergency, eliminating the barriers surrounding accessibility with blue light emergency boxes; making a difference for 490 students. 

How did Ellis stimulate your intellectual curiosity and creativity?
Ellis stimulated my intellectual curiosity and creativity by encouraging me to chase after all of my interests, challenge myself, and try new things. Ellis prepared me to enter college knowing that the world is at your fingertips, and you do not need to settle or pursue a specific path. Continue to find yourself!

What is the most important lesson you learned at Ellis?
The most important lesson I learned at Ellis is that you are going to fail and that is OK. It’s about how you pick yourself up. It’s about how you push on and keep going. The challenges that I faced in high school are what prepared me for college the most. I never gave up and Ellis never gave up on me. I learned how to accept failure, and Ellis taught me how to love myself in these failures because they are only small bumps on the road to success.

How would you describe yourself in three words?
Happy. Big-hearted. Strong-willed.

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