August 17, 2019

Contributing to the Greater Good

Kyle Newman, 17
High School: Milken Community Schools
College: UC Berkeley

Kyle Newman’s interest in the sciences emerged early on. “I always loved science, engineering and math,” the Milken Community Schools high school valedictorian told the Journal. “I was obsessed with Legos. I loved drawing building plans and experimenting, and my interest built over time.”

In 10th grade, Newman competed in an international physics competition in Israel. During his junior year, for the Conrad Spirit of Innovation Challenge, he co-invented an app-controlled patch device that uses electric impulses to stimulate nerves and increase circulation in the leg. He conducted his own bioengineering research at the Schmidt biosensor lab at UCLA last summer, and as the recipient of a Regents Scholarship, he will enter UC Berkeley as a bioengineering major this fall.

But Newman is not a stereotypical science nerd. He’s also passionate about world history and music. A tenor who also plays guitar and the saxophone, he would like to minor in music and join a jazz band at college. His essay on composer George Gershwin was a finalist in the Norman E. Alexander Jewish writing competition, and he has helped his AP literature teacher with her doctoral research. 

He has volunteered with Milken’s social action and justice group Yozma and is a member of the Zaman arts collective of Mizrahi Jews. Last summer, he taught himself to read Farsi.

“My parents always wanted me to explore what I’m passionate about,” Newman said. “I’m definitely a perfectionist, but I never set a bar for myself. There’s no limit to it.”

“I’m definitely a perfectionist, but I never set a bar for myself. There’s no limit to it.”

The son of Iranian immigrants and a Westwood resident, Newman’s father died last year after suffering a stroke. His mother, Jasmine, has been his rock. “Seeing her strength in this terrible time was very inspirational for me and helped me get through it,” he said.  

Judaism also has been a source of strength. “Ever since I was little, Judaism was always grounding,” he said. “I think it’s a privilege to be part of a legacy that has continued for thousands of years. Jewish values have a subconscious influence on how I live, how I respect my parents and elders. Judaism definitely influences what I do.”

Newman volunteers at the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust, working on a project called Messages of the Future. “We interview Holocaust survivors about their story but also about issues and current events,” he said. “At a time when people are losing sight of history, we’re getting testimonials that are living proof of what happened. We’re the last generation that will be able to hear from these survivors before they pass away We’re making the truth permanent.”

This summer, Newman plans to hang out with friends, visit his sister Mandy, who is studying for her doctorate in psychology in New York, attend a family wedding in Paris and do some SAT tutoring. He’s looking forward to college and the future.

“Whatever I wind up doing, I want to make a contribution to the greater good, whether it’s inventing a device in the medical field or something to help the environment, or using my engineering expertise in the field of medicine,” he said. “Whatever I do, I want it to have a direct impact.”

Keep on reading about our 2019 Outstanding Seniors here.