Three Students Advance to FINALS in QLI Competition
Michelle H. Daino
Kathleen Brennan, Mathematics Department Chairperson, reported that the team of Leanne Paolino '21, Aryanna Perez '21, and Meghan Webber '21 has earned finalist status in the W!SE (Working in Support of Education) 26th Annual Quality of Life (QLI) Competition. The QLI is a unique social entrepreneurship initiative where high school students identify and develop feasible solutions to community-based problems.
According to Ms. Brennan, this is the first time that a QLI team from Mount Saint Mary Academy has advanced to the final round. “I am so impressed by the team’s creativity—their proposal to design and manufacture sustainable masks for school-wide use is certainly unique—it addresses a need created by COVID-19, while at the same time focusing on environmental sustainability.”
Aryanna said, "I was so excited and proud to hear that we made it to the final round of the QLI competition. Our team worked very hard on our project this year, producing environmentally sustainable masks with secondhand fabrics from thrift stores. It was awesome to see all our hard work pay off and to see our work make a difference in our school community.” She said that the team started working on their project in March. They met in person every Saturday for a month to create the masks. To work on the written proposal, the girls FaceTimed about two to three times per week.
"Once we came up with our idea, we went to a thrift store in Watchung to purchase 100 percent tightly woven cotton t-shirts. This fabric has been approved by the CDC for fabric mask production. Our team actually had no prior experience with sewing, but we were able to learn through YouTube tutorials. We washed our purchased fabric and began working on a practical prototype mask. Once we figured out a design that fit well, we began to mass produce the masks in different colors and colorblock designs," added Aryanna.
Meghan shared, "Throughout the process we met with numerous people. Our mentor, Camille, was instrumental in connecting us with a professional in the textile industry, Clelia. She provided information on market research on consumer preferences for masks that helped guide our design process. Additionally, she provided us with tips on how to create the masks. I am so proud that our proposal has advanced to the Finals. Our team put a lot of hard work into this idea because we are all very passionate about making an impact in our community to help better the environment."
The final round of the competition takes place virtually on June 8.