U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren, R-Plano, recently hosted a STEM Scholars graduation ceremony featuring Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti, Fermilab Director Nigel Lockyer and Bill Nye, CEO of the Planetary Society, via Skype.
In addition, STEM Scholars including Sofia Ballesteros of Oswego High School delivered remarks on their experiences over the past year.
Held at FONA International in Geneva, the event celebrated the second class of STEM Scholars, a 14th Congressional District youth leadership program encouraging high school students to become ambassadors in their communities for the possibilities provided by science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Local STEM Scholars, in addition to Ballesteros, included OHS students Siddharth Ketha, Jessica Lopez and Ekien Nguyen, and Yorkville High School student Aden Harzman.
“This second class of STEM Scholars was excited and engaged throughout the year, and their enthusiasm was on full display at graduation at FONA International. The students and parents were especially excited to hear from Bill Nye, Lt. Gov. Sanguinetti and Director Lockyer about the careers and opportunities ahead in STEM. I was especially inspired by the speeches of three of our STEM Scholars. This class is well on its way, and I cannot wait to see what these students will accomplish in science, medicine, education, business and more,” said Rep. Hultgren.
“My experience with being a part of the STEM Scholars program was absolutely eye-opening. Going to the STEM meetings also helped me become a better student in school. ... I learned about the many job opportunities that the world has to offer,” said Ballesteros. “I also learned that there is a possibility that my career will involve criminal justice because I found everything about our visit to the Kendall County Police Station in Yorkville interesting, from the blood exhibit to the fingerprint exhibit.”
This past school year, Rep. Hultgren and the STEM Scholars tackled microbiology with community college faculty, learned about food flavoring science and career and industry trends, got their hands dirty cleaning out invasive species and studying ecology alongside scientists at a retreat and ecology center, visited the shop floor of a local manufacturer to see how the company makes and customizes forklifts for its customers, practiced forensic science and law enforcement investigative techniques at a sheriff’s and coroner’s offices, viewed a sub-ice rover used to conduct research in Antarctica and tested out laser cutters at a local university, and saw up-close how infrared countermeasures keep aircraft safe and the science behind NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope alongside engineers at a large government contractor, among other experiences.