We do what we do at the Academy because we're passionate about connecting bright young people with exciting and fruitful (and critical) careers in math, technology, engineering, and the sciences. And there's no better reward then to hear from those who have participated in our programs and found inspiration and direction and possibilities they never understood were well within their grasp.
While our successes bring a sense of satifisfaction and renew our energies, we truly savor that patriotic tingle that comes from helping, just a little, to keep America strong—in her armed forces and on the frontiers of technology and innovation that fuel our prosperity.
Below are some of the success stories we're pleased to share.
One of our JSHS student winners was invited to meet President Obama and join students from other nationwide STEM related programs at the White House Science Fair. We've posted these links to the press release and the video as well as the President's remarks when addressing to the student winners presenting at the White House Science Fair. Following the White House Science Fair, one of the student participants, Shannon Diesch, set up a Facebook group in hopes of connecting with some of the other students that participated in the Fair.
“We would like to thank you for all of your time and dedication to the REAP program. You gave our sons Ron and Nick a life changing opportunity to participate in real university research as incoming high school seniors. They learned alot during their experience over the summer, interacting with their mentors, and the wider university community, and becoming more prepared for their future as college students. Nick and Ron discovered what research is all about, and now they are passionate to continue. As parents, we believe that the exposure made possible by the REAP program will make a difference in their lives. We are greatful for all that they learned. Thank you for making it possible!” —Ron and Daniela Ostezan
“I have recently graduated from Wayzata High School in Plymouth, Minnesota, a suburb of the Twin Cities. I plan to attend the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in the fall to major in mathematics with an emphasis in biology. I would like to thank you so much for your support. I was so excited to be accepted into the program, and this summer has greatly exceeded all of my expectations. My goals were to gain more research experience and to learn about life as a researcher. I would definitely say that I have accomplished those goals, but also much more. I really enjoy the work I am doing and my mentors have inspired me to continue to do research in similar fields. I truly appreciate your support and hope that you continue to support this amazing program.” —Minna Chen
Dr. Kathy Seggerson completed the post-doctorate program at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver. As a biochemistry and genetic researcher, she is specializing in Ribo Nucleic Acid (RNA) processing. Dr. Seggerson participated in the Kentucky JSHS for three years during high school at Notre Dame Academy and went on to the National JSHS in both 1985 and 1987. In describing the impact JSHS had on her, Kathy noted, “Attending the state and national symposia was a fun and exciting reward for the hard work I had done during the year on my science project. The experience of meeting other kids interested in science was enriching and encouraging. These things probably encouraged me to pursue science when I attended college.”
Dan Weitz, three-time National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium participant from the Northern New Jersey Regional and three-time winner tells us that “the format of the JSHS permitted me exposure to student research in virtually every field. I walked away from each symposium intoxicated not only by what I had learned, but what I had been exposed to. I suspect that few scientists have the privilege of such interdisciplinary exposure, particularly at such a young age. I was taught that research was enormously rewarding and that risk-taking was an essential element of good science.”
Dan credits his JSHS experience for giving him the ability to see his own work (plasma physics and fusion during his JSHS research years) in the context of both other scientists and society as a whole. The exposure to a range of disciplines that JSHS fosters gave him the ability to speak of his work to scientists outside his field and to recognize the synergy between his work and theirs.
Although possessed of a smoldering interest in geology from a young age, Phillip Szymcek admits that he was not a hot science student in middle school and that his participation in the Southern Illinois Junior Science and Humanities Symposium during high school was actually his first out-of-class science experience. That spark of interest fully caught fire in college as Phillip carried out fossil foraminifera research at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale.
Allison Cobb, Research and Engineering Apprenticeship Program (REAP), apprentice in 1993 and 1994, who recently received a promotion to territory manager at Hormel Foods, her first employer, attributes much of her drive, direction and interest in the food industry to those two summers spent working at the University of Illinois Food Science Department under REAP mentor Dr. Shelly Schmidt. Allison’s interest in science and business as a high school student led to a B.S. with honors in food service and human nutrition at the University of Illinois followed by a M.S. in food services with a specialization in food marketing at Michigan State University. She began at Hormel a month after graduation and got the promotion less than a year later. Allison believes her REAP summer apprenticeship experience has shaped her goals and career.
“My experience at the Jackson Laboratory firmed up my desire to pursue a career in biology. The laboratory experience and interaction with people who make science a large part of their life gave me insight into what a science career is all about - and for me it was what I was looking for!” —Joshua King
“This [as a REAP an apprentice at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs] has definitely strengthened my love for physics. I decided to take Honors Physics instead of regular physics because of this job. I think I will go on to take AP Physics and am considering it strongly as one of my career choices. I am already a step ahead of my physics class. It is pretty much summed up by our motto in the physics lab: ‘Physics Rules!’” —William Lavery