Etasha Donthi Is a Seventeen Voice of ChangeLors Images / Design by Yoora Kim

Even throughout probably the most difficult occasions in historical past, it is necessary to spotlight those that are persevering with to observe their goals and are taking strides to make the world a greater place. Every month, Seventeen is honoring younger individuals as Voices of Change, those that are making a distinction of their neighborhood and the world at giant.

On Might 23, United States Surgeon Common Vivek Murthy labeled youth psychological well being “the defining public well being situation of our time.” It’s a disaster that has worsened over the previous decade, as charges of melancholy and nervousness heighten amongst youngsters aged 3 to 17, in line with analysis by JAMA Pediatrics. Etasha Donthi, 18, is conscious about this. A few years in the past, her shut pal tragically handed away from suicide and Etasha was confronted with a robust, albeit troublesome, query she knew she needed to discover a solution to: “How can I construct one thing that may make a constructive affect throughout the psychological well being area, and probably save lives?”

Like most who grew up within the digital age, Etasha couldn’t ignore social media and its affect, particularly on psychological well being. “I’ve come to understand that many individuals use it as a platform to specific their psychological well being struggles and feelings,” Etasha tells Seventeen. “Nonetheless, amid the huge sea of posts, these expressions typically go unnoticed.” So in between promenade prep, midterm exams, and faculty purposes, Etasha taught herself the way to code through on-line analysis, YouTube, and female-led STEM organizations such because the Karlie Kloss-founded Kode With Klossy program.

Now a highschool senior, Etasha has developed Livity, a patent-pending novel algorithm that has the power to determine suicidal ideation and psychological well being struggles inside posts uploaded to apps like Twitter and Reddit, after which, join these people with free psychological well being assets. In 2021, she based She The Change, a podcast and non-profit group that highlights feminine leaders and changemakers who’re difficult and altering the established order in male-dominated fields. “Connecting with one another and understanding we’re not alone is a large step in direction of making change and realizing, hey in the event that they had been capable of do it, possibly I can too,” Etasha shares.

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After commencement, she’s set to start out lessons on the College of California, Berkeley, as an engineering pupil, and as she continues to steadiness the obligations of being a full-time pupil and entrepreneur, Etasha’s mission to amplify gender fairness and be a pressure of change solely grows stronger. Right here, Etasha Donthi, Seventeen’s newest Voice of Change, discusses the intricacies behind Livity, her journey to discovering a supportive neighborhood in STEM, and why it’s so vital to observe your ardour.

17: How does your novel algorithm, Livity, work?

Etasha Donthi: Livity makes use of pure language processing (NLP), an space of synthetic intelligence, and sentiment evaluation to determine suicidal ideation inside social media posts. The algorithm works by analyzing textual content knowledge, equivalent to Twitter threads and Reddit posts, utilizing AI methods. Particularly, the algorithm employs sentiment evaluation, which includes figuring out the emotional tone and sentiment expressed within the textual content. By making use of this sentiment evaluation strategy, the algorithm can acknowledge language indicative of suicidal ideation and psychological well being issues inside social media posts. Livity is a novel algorithm, so I’m within the strategy of patenting the algorithm.

17: After the algorithm acknowledges this language, what occurs subsequent?

ED: Though the algorithm isn’t presently publicly obtainable, our prototype operates by recognizing language indicative of suicidal ideation after which connecting these people with free psychological well being assets. The purpose is to attach these people with psychological well being assets that they won’t have already got entry to or may not know can be found inside their space.

Proper now, we’re engaged on integrating this algorithm into an app and extension, the place it will probably determine suicidal ideation throughout the current social media apps we use every day, like Twitter and Reddit, and supply further assets on to people.

17: How do you steadiness being a full-time pupil and founding father of a tech start-up?

ED: It is actually been a studying expertise. I dove into the tech start-up world headfirst, and am nonetheless within the early phases. Time administration has been an enormous a part of constructing this start-up alongside my schoolwork. But it surely’s such an necessary enterprise and so close to and expensive to my coronary heart, I can’t not find time for it. Typically I take calls or enterprise conferences within the college cafeteria.

17: What impressed you to pursue a profession in tech and entrepreneurship?

ED: I by no means anticipated going into the tech subject after I first entered highschool, however it’s one thing I fell in love with. A few of my first STEM lessons in class had only a few women, if any. It was an extremely troublesome interval — in these early life, I wanted to see illustration as a lady and individual of shade and be surrounded by individuals who understood my perspective inside these school rooms. Not seeing that was an enormous issue. I skilled microaggressions and extremely aggressive, cliquey environments that made it troublesome to discover this untapped ardour of mine authentically. It wasn’t till I participated in varied Ladies in STEM organizations that I discovered a way of neighborhood, which was an enormous assist, particularly throughout the COVID years. I discovered like-minded individuals, and though they weren’t in my city or space, I used to be capable of forge a connection and notice that I used to be not alone in my pursuits. There are different individuals like me who’re simply as passionate, excited, and considering STEM and are dealing with the identical difficulties within the classroom as I’m.

17: What’s your largest piece of recommendation to younger individuals in STEM?

ED: Your voice issues. You matter. Think about your self. Imposter syndrome is an extremely actual feeling, however notice that you’re not alone. Discovering a way of neighborhood and realizing that there are different individuals similar to you, who’re experiencing inequity inside these male-dominated areas, helps you notice that you simply belong and your voice issues.

17: What does being a Voice of Change honoree imply to you?

ED: Being a Voice of Change means serving as a supply of inspiration and illustration that many could not have. It’s an enormous, large step in direction of making progress for girls, particularly girls of shade. It’s probably the most gratifying feeling to be acknowledged for making an affect.

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