My college major allowed me to make an impact on my sister’s life that I never even knew would be possible.



November 12, 2021

“My twelve-year-old sister, Lara, has a severe genetic disorder called Rett Syndrome. When she was born, I always wanted to spend time with her and help her eat, walk, and have fun. As I became older, I also tried to help with her studies.

“During high school, I realized that I could make a greater impact on Lara’s life. As she cannot talk or use her hands, Lara relies on assistive technology where her eyes function as a computer mouse. To make better progress in school, Lara would try to play online educational games, but existing online math games are not made for kids with disabilities. With my new passion for computer science, I decided to try coding games to meet her specific needs, but I soon realized that I was not technically able to accomplish my goals.

“After my first year at Cornell, I felt I had developed enough engineering skills to restart the project. With an initial team of six Cornell students, we spent six months researching and experimenting with game features and website designs. By winter 2020, I built a team of 15 and developed a plan for the website:

“AI-Learners is an e-learning platform that helps kids with severe disabilities succeed academically by making learning easier, personalized, and accessible. We help kids enjoy playing math games and their teachers, parents, and caregivers by providing additional support for their kids.

“My personal goal is to help Lara and her friends to become better mathematicians, and now already seeing her focus on multiplication, which her progress report identified as a weakness, has been our biggest reward for designing the website.” — Adele Smolansky, Cornell University ‘23

Adele Smolansky is a recipient of the 2021 Hillel International Campus Leadership Award. Learn more about Hillel scholarships for Jewish students.