June 3, 2020
Five MPA seniors received and presented on their Graduate Certificates of Distinctions last week. For the first time in MPA history, three seniors were STEM recipients: Misk Khalif, Jordan Akers, and Annie Portoghese. Two seniors were Fine Art recipients: Charles Grimes and Solveig Svenniveg-Brosi.
Graduate Certificates of Distinction are designed with the belief that Upper School students can be architects of their education. The program recognizes students who have a passion within a discipline that drives them. These students are exploring their passions while staying committed to a balanced education. All MPA Upper School students are eligible to work toward a single Certificate of Distinction in one of three areas: Fine Arts, Global, or STEM.
Misk spoke on her role as founder and executive director of the STEM Center For Girl Innovators, where she manages operations such as tutoring, science experiments, coding, and mentorship programs. She is a passionate advocate for gender and racial equity in the STEM field, which is why she founded the Center for Girl Innovators early in her STEM career. With hopes to pursue a degree in medical research, she centered her final project on Gut-Brain Axis, which is the biochemical reaction between the nervous and gastrointestinal systems.
Jordan has experimented with many different STEM fields, from software to biology, and is currently directing his efforts to environmental systems and food sustainability. His senior service project was an apprenticeship at Bluebird Hill Homestead in Hudson, Wisconsin, where he worked for months at an off-grid homestead powered by solar energy. He assisted in growing food and medicine through sustainable and regenerative gardening methods, building natural structures, and supervising nature connection kids’ classes.
Annie has also journeyed through many areas of STEM and STEAM, as a talented, exhibited ceramicist and dedicated member of the MPA Robotics team. Through robotics and the leadership of Mr. Shapiro and Ms. Sullivan, she found her direction and passion through coding and became a leader on the team herself. Mr. Shapiro noted that Annie persistently planted seeds of coding among younger members of the team in order to teach them what she knows to use as a tool after she graduates.
Charles moves through several different mediums to express his dedication and love for art. As a student who has received honors and recognition for his paintings and ceramic work, his narrative as an artist began when he was in first grade. Charles shared many of his inspirations and artists he admires, both local and global, during his presentation, mentioning how each has made an individual impact on the person he is today. Charles’s artwork has made lasting connections, reaching children in Venezuela in partnership with The Memory Project.
All-State Choir singer Solveig Svennevig-Brosi has been involved with several MPA theatre productions and Madrigal singers, all which she said transformed her educational experience. Though there were different steps she took towards her Certificates of Distinction every year in Upper School, she notes that her junior year was full of commitments on the MMEA All-State Choir and with the University of Minnesota’s Radio K station. Volunteering and DJing with Radio K eventually led to her senior service project.