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Etasha Donthi Is a Seventeen Voice of ChangeLors Photography / Style by Yoora Kim

Even in the course of the most difficult occasions in history, it really is significant to highlight these who are continuing to adhere to their dreams and are taking strides to make the planet a much better spot. Every single month, Seventeen is honoring young individuals as Voices of Modify, these who are producing a distinction in their neighborhood and the planet at massive.

On May well 23, United States Surgeon Basic Vivek Murthy labeled youth mental wellness “the defining public wellness situation of our time.” It is a crisis that has worsened more than the previous decade, as prices of depression and anxiousness heighten amongst youngsters aged three to 17, according to study by JAMA Pediatrics. Etasha Donthi, 18, is acutely conscious of this. A couple of years ago, her close pal tragically passed away from suicide and Etasha was confronted with a effective, albeit tough, query she knew she had to uncover an answer to: “How can I make one thing that can make a optimistic effect inside the mental wellness space, and potentially save lives?”

Like most who grew up in the digital age, Etasha could not ignore social media and its effect, particularly on mental wellness. “I’ve come to comprehend that quite a few individuals use it as a platform to express their mental wellness struggles and feelings,” Etasha tells Seventeen. “However, amid the vast sea of posts, these expressions generally go unnoticed.” So in involving prom prep, midterm exams, and college applications, Etasha taught herself how to code by means of on-line study, YouTube, and female-led STEM organizations such as the Karlie Kloss-founded Kode With Klossy system.

Now a higher college senior, Etasha has created Livity, a patent-pending novel algorithm that has the capacity to determine suicidal ideation and mental wellness struggles inside posts uploaded to apps like Twitter and Reddit, and then, connect these folks with totally free mental wellness sources. In 2021, she founded She The Modify, a podcast and non-profit organization that highlights female leaders and changemakers who are difficult and altering the status quo in male-dominated fields. “Connecting with each and every other and understanding we’re not alone is a massive step towards producing adjust and realizing, hey if they had been capable to do it, perhaps I can as well,” Etasha shares.

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Following graduation, she’s set to start out classes at the University of California, Berkeley, as an engineering student, and as she continues to balance the responsibilities of becoming a complete-time student and entrepreneur, Etasha’s mission to amplify gender equity and be a force of adjust only grows stronger. Right here, Etasha Donthi, Seventeen’s most recent Voice of Modify, discusses the intricacies behind Livity, her journey to acquiring a supportive neighborhood in STEM, and why it is so essential to adhere to your passion.

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

Etasha Donthi: Livity utilizes all-natural language processing (NLP), an location of artificial intelligence, and sentiment evaluation to determine suicidal ideation inside social media posts. The algorithm operates by analyzing text information, such as Twitter threads and Reddit posts, making use of AI strategies. Especially, the algorithm employs sentiment evaluation, which includes figuring out the emotional tone and sentiment expressed in the text. By applying this sentiment evaluation method, the algorithm can recognize language indicative of suicidal ideation and mental wellness issues inside social media posts. Livity is a novel algorithm, so I’m in the method of patenting the algorithm.

17: Following the algorithm recognizes this language, what occurs subsequent?

ED: Though the algorithm is not at the moment publicly offered, our prototype operates by recognizing language indicative of suicidal ideation and then connecting these folks with totally free mental wellness sources. The purpose is to connect these folks with mental wellness sources that they may possibly not currently have access to or may possibly not know are offered inside their location.

Appropriate now, we’re operating on integrating this algorithm into an app and extension, exactly where it can determine suicidal ideation inside the current social media apps we use on a everyday basis, like Twitter and Reddit, and give further sources straight to folks.

17: How do you balance becoming a complete-time student and founder of a tech start out-up?

ED: It is undoubtedly been a understanding knowledge. I dove into the tech start out-up planet headfirst, and am nevertheless in the early stages. Time management has been a massive component of developing this start out-up alongside my schoolwork. But it is such an significant venture and so close to and dear to my heart, I can not not make time for it. Occasionally I take calls or organization meetings in the college cafeteria.

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

ED: I under no circumstances anticipated going into the tech field when I 1st entered higher college, but it really is one thing I fell in adore with. Some of my 1st STEM classes in college had incredibly couple of girls, if any. It was an extremely tough period — in these formative years, I necessary to see representation as a lady and individual of colour and be surrounded by individuals who understood my viewpoint inside these classrooms. Not seeing that was a massive difficulty. I skilled microaggressions and extremely competitive, cliquey environments that produced it tough to discover this untapped passion of mine authentically. It wasn’t till I participated in many Girls in STEM organizations that I discovered a sense of neighborhood, which was a massive aid, specially in the course of the COVID years. I discovered like-minded individuals, and even though they weren’t in my town or location, I was capable to forge a connection and comprehend that I was not alone in my interests. There are other individuals like me who are just as passionate, excited, and interested in STEM and are facing the exact same troubles in the classroom as I am.

17: What is your greatest piece of assistance to young individuals in STEM?

ED: Your voice matters. You matter. Have faith in oneself. Imposter syndrome is an extremely actual feeling, but comprehend that you are not alone. Getting a sense of neighborhood and realizing that there are other individuals just like you, who are experiencing inequity inside these male-dominated spaces, assists you comprehend that you belong and your voice matters.

17: What does becoming a Voice of Modify honoree imply to you?

ED: Becoming a Voice of Modify implies serving as a supply of inspiration and representation that quite a few may possibly not have. It is a massive, massive step towards producing progress for females, specially females of colour. It is the most gratifying feeling to be recognized for producing an effect.

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