Hello!.. My name is Louisa Ulrich-Verderber. I am seventeen years old and a junior at BFA High School in St. Albans Vermont.

My life had a very, VERY unique beginning. I was born four months early and weighed one pound. My gestational age was 23 weeks, 5 days. Only 7% of babies born this early survive and only one percent have no disabilities.

THAT is a “1%” that I am lucky to be a part of.

 I realize that by accident of birth, I have had a very fortunate up-bringing as well. My parents, having lived abroad twice, were committed to raising my brother, sister and I as “citizens of the world”. To that end, they made sure that we all carry two passports - we have both Irish and American citizenship - and they began traveling abroad with us when we were old enough to carry our own backpacks - age four. By the age of 14 I had been to fifteen countries. We never traveled to normal tourist destinations. Because of my parent‘s work, we were roaming around places like the IRA headquarters in Belfast Northern Ireland, wildlife refuges in the Kalahari Desert, paddling the rivers of the Czech Republic, and playing soccer with children in an orphanage in Quito Ecuador!

 

As my parents were shaping my siblings and I into world travelers, they were also nurturing in us a continual love of science. I have been watching PBS for as long as I can remember, so I never quite understood the finer point of dressing and re-dressing Barbie dolls. On my birthdays I received countless small robotics kits, chemistry sets, and anatomy models. I even dissected an owl pellet on the kitchen table once, and have won the two middle school science fairs I was able to attend. Even now as I write at our kitchen counter there is the skull of an ermine, a three-foot long snakeskin, a mummified brown bat, and an ostrich egg hanging above my head.

Art, as well as science has been a big part of my life. I have grown up surrounded by artistic individuals. My grandfather was a very talented wood carver and enjoyed creating very detailed carvings of birds. My grandma was also very artistic, and spent her spare time doing intricate Tole paintings. My Mother is a very talented sculpture and does huge metal sculptures when she is not doing dentistry (both my parents are dentists) and my father has entertained us since we were toddlers with delightful pencil drawing caricatures. I have gone to art camps since the age of five and am still taking private art lessons to this day. My main medium is metal sculpture, but I enjoy sketching and painting too.

Besides my talents in science and art I have an unusual sensory condition called Synesthesia. Don‘t worry, it's not contagious. Synesthesia is a rather rare way of perceiving the world that only occurs in one in two thousand people. If you want to learn more visit my Synesthesia page.

I believe that each one of us is endowed with a unique alchemy of gifts. You have just read about mine and I would encourage you to explore and share your own. The internet makes that possible for almost anyone who is willing to go Beyond The Xtra Mile.