Engineering graduate breaks stereotypes - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Education News

Engineering graduate breaks stereotypes

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Posted: Saturday, May 17, 2008 2:45 pm | Updated: 11:02 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Alex Sabbatini wanted to help stop the harassment he’s seen throughout his years in school, so he volunteered to be a peer mediator with the Anti-Defamation League.

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Sabbatini taught the “follies” of racism, sexism and ageism to Desert Ridge High School freshmen. Through interactive activities, Sabbatini and other mediators worked with the younger students to make them aware of these issues and help make the campus more safe and accepting.

“I wanted to help turn that around through peer mediation and help break stereotypes,” said Sabbatini, 18, a senior at Desert Ridge, a Mesa school in the Gilbert Unified School District.

Sabbatini was also in the first class of Project Lead the Way, a four-year engineering program sponsored by Intel.

Since his freshmen year, Sabbatini worked on various engineering projects. The first year he was chosen as a group leader for the final project. This year, he helped design a working lawn sprinkler that traveled in a circle, and was part of the team to create the 3-D design.

The engineering program was the experience he needed. Sabbatini will be studying some type of engineering at Stanford University. He can’t decide on whether to study aerospace, mechanical or electrical engineering. “I’m still undecided on the future, but I have high hopes,” he said.

After a recent visit to the Stanford campus, Sabbatini is even more excited about attending the prestigious school in the fall.

He met lots of friends, including two students from Turkey, and he played frisbee on the beautiful campus grounds, he said.

Sabbatini is one of this year’s three valedictorians at Desert Ridge.

Last year, he was a member of the school’s Academic Decathlon team, which competed at the state level for the first time. He is also the president of the National Honor Society, is taking all advanced placement classes and has played on the school’s volleyball team for three years.

In his free time, Sabbatini taught himself how to juggle, is catching up on reading classic literature and enjoys designing and programming video games. He also dabbles in chess, plays racquetball with his friends and loves watching movies.

Sabbatini’s mentor, Mark Tawney, a history teacher at Desert Ridge, said Sabbatini is “almost like a Renaissance” man.

“He’s well versed in almost every subject matter,” Tawney said. “He’s empathetic. He’s really the total package. He’s in the top two or three students I’ve had in my 14 years of teaching.”

Sabbatini learned from the best: his parents and his older brother and sister.

His brother, Luca, is his idol. Luca was Desert Ridge High’s first valedictorian and is studying quantum physics.

His sister Cristina was salutatorian two years ago at Desert Ridge. She’s about to do a summer internship with Edward Jones and is an honors student at Arizona State University.

Sabbatini said he learned his organizational skills from his dad, Carlo, who was in the Italian Air Force Academy. His mom, Karen, kept him on track. As the youngest, Sabbatini said it’s been a little “stressful” trying to live up to his brother and sister’s legacy, but he is doing just fine, said his mom.

“He’s very easygoing, mellow, very curious, very hands-on,” she said. “I’m really excited he’s going to Stanford. He’s so lucky.”

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