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Jasmin Joseph has an eye on the ball and an MIT future

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El Camino Real softball player Jasmin Joseph plans to study bioengineering at MIT

If the producers of television's hit comedy “The Big Bang Theory” ever need to add a teenage star to their cast of brilliant, eccentric minds, then Jasmin Joseph of Woodland Hills El Camino Real would fit right in.

She's an aspiring scientist and a top softball player for the No. 1 team in the City Section. She ranks No. 2 in her class academically and is headed to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She gets about three hours a sleep each night juggling her many responsibilities and couldn't be happier. She never forgets her long-term ambitions.

“I want to see a world where there's no genetic diseases, no Parkinson's, no Tay-Sachs, no Huntington's, no cystic fibrosis,” she said.

Her dreams and aspirations started when she sat in the biology class of Annie Darakjian as a freshman and sophomore. She remembers also being inspired by the movie “Lorenzo's Oil,” about parents searching for a cure for their ill son.

“I fell in love and wanted to go into genetics and bioengineering,” she said. “I want to work in a lab and do research.”

Her softball teammates joke that at MIT, “they have rulers on their bats.”

Her coach, Lori Chandler, said, “The rarity is her combination of smarty-pants brains with her dedication to softball. She is off the scale smarty-pants wise but she's equally as dedicated on the field.”

Joseph is the starting center fielder and leadoff batter for the Conquistadores (18-1). She's batting .548 with 13 stolen bases.

She didn't start playing softball until she was 13. But she's a quick learner and her speed makes her invaluable on the field.

In the classroom, Darakjian noticed early on that Joseph was different.

“She can do anything,” Darakjian said. “She has the inquisitive mind and the perseverance and persistence in achieving her goals and going beyond all obstacles. That's her personality. I would not be surprised if one day she becomes a great scientist.”

Joseph can certainly speak the language of someone who's going to be soon hanging out with best of the best at MIT, which received 18,989 undergraduate applications for 2013 and accepted 1,548 (8.2%).

“I'm going into bioengineering, which encompasses more than just genetics,” she said. “It's all parts of cellular systems, changing them and working with them, learning the structure. I want to eventually focus on genomics, work with DNA and genes to hopefully correct the abnormalities in the human genome and find cures for diseases.”

That's pretty serious stuff coming from an 18-year-old, but she's still a teenager enjoying high school, smiling with her teammates and thriving in her softball success.

Her mother is a television producer. Her stepfather works in real estate. She has a 4-year-old brother she baby-sits. She seems to know how to fit into different worlds, from academia to sports to being a senior in high school. That versatility and her warm personality offer her a future with unlimited possibilities.

“She had that pleasant personality where she could impress you without pushing,” Darakjian said.

Asked how she would feel if one day she was known as the softball-playing scientist, Joseph said, “Awesome.”

Follow Eric Sondheimer on Twitter: @LATSondheimer

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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