Bigi Breaks Barriers To Boost Brain Power


Rolling out of bed at 7:35, getting onto your online class, muting your microphone, and turning the camera, and simply walking away from the screen. This sounds pretty ideal for the average student, but not for senior Isaac Bigi. Isaac is the epitome of an online student, and shows his dedication to his education and being fully present in every class even if it has to be through a screen. This school year Greater Latrobe students were given the opportunity to choose to attend school in person or learn from home as a synchronous student. Online students have chosen this option simply due to covid precautions, family relations, or personal health complications. Being an online student comes with many challenges and hardships that senior Isaac Bigi has not let stop him. Isaac has found methods, time management skills, and adaptations that have kept him dedicated to his education. Isaac is involved in clubs that support his academic career and will help to impact his future. Isaac is Treasurer of Science National Honor Society, a member of National Honor Society, and Mu Alpha Theta

Isaac has had Graves Disease since he was two years old. Graves disease is an autoimmune disease that causes an overactive thyroid. The summer going into freshman year of high school Isaac began having serious complications. It was very difficult for Isaac to walk and even function on his own, he was only able to lift his arms above his head. 

After visiting many doctors that he has grown up with, they decided to begin trying all different kinds of treatments. Isaac was told that they had never seen anything like it before and it was very rare what was occuring. It took many months of trying different things that were trial and error. “Looking back to last November I began to lose hope while looking for answers, but I always knew I would get better. I had so much support from my family and friends. My parents would always tell me ‘You are who you are and we love you for that.’ which always made me stay hopeful, ” Isaac said. 

Isaac, his family, and many of his doctors finally found a surgery that they wanted to try to see if it could help him in any way. This surgery took lots of preparation to ensure that Isaacs immune system would be strong enough. He tried a newer drug trial which was an IV that would help prepare Isaacs immune system in time for the surgery. “It began to help so much. It doesn’t seem like much but I was adjusting and learning how to walk again using a walker which felt really good,” Isaac said.  The thymectomy surgery ended up working which led Isaac on a road to recovery. 

Isaac began going to therapy at Excela Square which opened just after Isaac had his surgery. Isaac would have physical therapy three days a week, and occupational therapy two days a week. “They had this antigravity treadmill that I would use, and it was wear I learned to walk on my own for the first time in eight months,” Isaac said

With Isaac being immunocompromised and  at a high risk due to his autoimmune disease if he were to contract the virus. “I was honestly planning on going to school in the summer, but we emailed my doctors and they thought that I should stay home and go online.” This ended up being the best decision for Isaac personally, especially with the numbers drastically increasing among students and staff going forward into these winter months. 

It is important to create a schedule that works best for you in order to follow each day, stay motivated, and remain dedicated to your classes, grades, and education. ”I know how important education is. Education is key to the development of society, and I also really enjoy learning new things. I am always curious and always want to learn as much as possible.” Isaac said. 

Isaac is one to challenge and push himself to become successful and gain vast knowledge on a variety of different subject areas. Isaac takes many AP and high rigor classes that take time, energy, dedication, and time outside of the classroom to complete homework, assignments, and preparation for tests and exams. Isaac also takes a project based learning class which is a joint hands on active class taught by Mr. Brandt and Mrs. Stallings. This class is one that takes adapting to learn online since it is a more hands-on course.  “I just always try to stay on top of my work and get it done sooner rather than later. This is especially important online because it is really easy to forget about an assignment or a test without everyone talking about it at school.” Isaac said. 

Isaac is admired by his peers for his diligence,commitment to his schooling, and well as his ability to overcome  challenges. Isaac is a captain on the soccer team this year. With his autoimmune disease, it was very important for him to practice social distancing as well as wearing a mask as often as possible.  As a precaution Isaac would even drive himself to away games instead of being on the bus with the rest of the team. “He’s gone through a lot, the team was very supportive and we always checked in on him” teammate Nate Myers said. 

 With the breakout of covid on the Soccer team this season, the rest of the team was always cautious of Isaac and took into consideration that he was at high risk. “At first it was scary when it began, but it was mainly on the junior varsity team which made me feel less worried,” Isaac said. Isaac as well as the rest of the team had quarantined for 14 days which Isac and his younger brother Ben took very seriously as they felt it was their “Civic duty” as a player on the team in order to stay healthy, and get back on the field for the playoff game. 

Isaac was voted by his peers for The National Honors Society scholarship. This scholarship has awarded many Greater Latrobe Students in the past from anywhere between $2,500 and $5,000.  “It felt really good to be selected by my peers as one of the three students to apply for the scholarship,” Isaac said. 

Isaac has a bright future ahead and has the qualifications to get him wherever he sets his heart to. Isaac plans on majoring in chemical engineering and has applied to many schools so far. He has applied to the various prestigious University of Pennsylvania, Case Western Reserve University, Carnegie Mellon University, Johns Hopkins University, University of Pittsburgh, and Penn State University. “After that, I want to go onto medical school. The reason for that is I want to help other people that were like me when I was sick” Isaac said.  Over the next few years, Isaac’s hard work, commitment, and ability to overcome challenges and change  will continue to carry him wherever he may go and will not remain unnoticed.