“One thing that students must learn is to use their resources. Many people have the mentality that they can do it on their own but it is important to have other people’s ideas to be incorporated together. The saying that two minds are better than one is very true. Everyone has different strengths.” – Victoria Parisi, USA
Few things inspire me like a student with passion, grit, drive and a great idea. Here at Daily Edventures, we have had the honor of featuring some incredible stories from students who have taken their passions and ideas and turned them into something successful and meaningful. Students like Malcolm London, Erik Martin, Cristina Isern and Adora Svitak, among so many others. And my interview today is no exception.
I met Victoria Parisi recently at an event for the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), a Microsoft-funded high school program that inspires youth from low-income areas to stay in school, identify career opportunities, and focus on their futures. Parisi, a high school senior, is set to graduate in a couple short weeks. Last spring, Parisi signed up for an entrepreneurship class thinking, “I’d go into it for the ‘A’,” she says. However, within minutes of entering the class, she went from wanting to be a pharmacist, to wanting to become entrepreneur. “I wanted to make a difference in the world,” she adds.
As with so many successful businesses, Parisi tapped into her personal history, and founded a niche business that is not only promising in its business model, but is first and foremost about helping others. Parisi, who has lived with a severe chronic illness most of her life, wanted to start a business that would help parents find a caregiver they could trust with the special needs of their children. She wanted to offer parents peace of mind, and also provide the child with a companion and friend: Skilled Sitters was born. With plans to launch in January 2015, Skilled Sitters is a child care service business for children who live with chronic or terminal illness including kids with autism, down syndrome, diabetes, cancer, MS, and many more.
“NFTE has really helped me grow out of my comfort zone and learn a bunch of new things,” adds Parisi. “With this class, I am now able to present in front of tons of people…last November I presented at Babson College in front of almost 1000 people. A year ago, I would have never, ever have thought I would have been able to do that.”
It’s my pleasure to share today’s Daily Edventure with Victoria Parisi. Enjoy!
Can you tell us about a favorite teacher, or someone who made a difference in your education?
My business teacher, Mrs. Anne Nguyen, in high school taught me that there was more to a career than working for someone else. She taught me the skills to be able to start my own business and helped me direct my passions into a business opportunity.
Please describe how your professional achievements have advanced innovation in education. What has changed as a result of your work?
I have started to do public speaking about my business to encourage other students; to show them that they have the potential to do something that they love for the rest of their lives if they are willing to work for it.
How have you applied technology in innovative ways to support your work?
My business is all online. Parents fill out questions to find a caregiver all online.
In your opinion, how has the use of apps, cellphones, and mobile devices changed education?
The use of phones is a key way to keep communication between my parents and me. They are changing education by keeping parents and students in contact through email. They also have the opportunity to share documents with teachers and other students and receive feedback instantly. This is helpful because it is faster and right in front of the student to know exactly what they need to improve on.
In your view, what is the most exciting innovation happening in education today?
The most exciting innovation happening in education is that more and more students are getting the opportunity to go to college. This expands horizons and opportunities for lots of students.
Is there a 21st century skill (critical thinking and problem solving, communication, collaboration, or creativity and innovation) that you are most passionate about? Why?
One thing that students must learn is to use their resources. Many people have the mentality that they can do it on their own but it is important to have other people’s ideas to be incorporated together. The saying that two minds are better than one is very true. Everyone has different strengths.
If you could give one educational tool to every child in the world, what would it be? Why?
I would give every child a computer. This gives them the opportunity to learn things and be able to be in contact with anyone in the world.
What is your region doing well currently to support education?
In the Hartford (Connecticut) region, they have magnet schools where children can choose what kind of school they would like to go to — one that would better fit their passions.
How must education change in your country to ensure that students are equipped to thrive in the 21st century?
Education after high school is very expensive and still not enough students get to go because they do not have the money. Colleges need to be more accommodating for students who cannot afford it.
About Victoria-Leigh Parisi
Founder and CEO of Skilled Sitters; Student
Simsbury, Connecticut USA
- School name: Suffolk University
- Birthplace: Connecticut
- Current residence: Simsbury, Connecticut
- Education: High School(Graduate June 12, 2014)
- Website I check every day: Facebook or Instagram
- Person who inspires me most: My mother because she has lived with cardiomyopathy and other various illnesses since she was 27 and still continues to work hard and take care of a family daily.
- Favorite childhood memory: Going to spend the summer going into sophomore year with my grandparents in California by myself.
- Next travel destination (work or pleasure): Boston
- When was the last time you laughed? Why?: Today when I was watching an episode of Friends.
- Favorite book: Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
- Favorite music: Classical music
- Your favorite quote or motto: “Strive not to be a success but rather to be of value” –Albert Einstein