A Great Day in DC

I had the pleasure of escorting three of the Intel Science Talent Search finalists to Capitol Hill last month. It was an honor to get to know these magnificent students, and to learn about their amazing projects. Elizabeth Coquillette (Cleveland Heights, Ohio), Caitlin Mann (Rocky River, Ohio) and Tong Zhan (Mason, Ohio) joined the ranks of other past finalists, including even some former Nobel Prize winners that have made major scientific breakthroughs through out the years. I was in awe of their ideas, research, and hard work.

Thinking back to high school days, I believe most of us can honestly say that we weren’t working on a bio-sensor to detect musculo-skeletal damage, nor were we building a search-and-rescue robot……and we certainly weren’t investigating the Rainbow Ramsey Theory. Amazingly, this is what Caitlin, Elizabeth and Tong have been working on this past year.

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We started off our “shock and awe” tour by visiting Senator Voinovich, who was fascinated by these young students. “It was truly a privilege to meet with the Intel Science Talent Search finalists in my Washington, D.C. office last month. I am convinced that a world-class education is the best way to help every citizen make the most of his or her God-given talents, and these finalists are the cream of the crop. They have recognized the value of a math and science education, and I congratulate each of them on what they have accomplished. As leaders, I hope they will serve as mentors to their friends and siblings as they seek their own path to success.”

Next stop was Congresswoman Schmidt. She was inspired by their passion and completely astonished by their accomplishments.

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“It was truly a pleasure to meet and spend time with the Intel Science Talent finalists. Spending time with these bright science stars of tomorrow was a memorable experience, one that reminds me how impressive our next generation truly is. I am especially proud that my congressional district was represented by a student from the Mason School District. Math and science is the foundation upon which our economic prosperity will be built for generations to come. Knowing that we have such high caliber scholars there to lead us in science and technology is truly comforting. I wish all of the participants in the 2009 Intel Science Talent competition well, and urge you to continue in your intellectual pursuits.”

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Last stop was Congressman Kucinich. “I offer my congratulations to all the participants of the Intel Science Talent Search! As a supporter of increased education funding for people of all ages, I am continually impressed with the hard work, focus and ingenuity

put forth by our next generation of leaders. I also offer congratulations to the families and schools of the STS participants. Thanks to your compassion and attention, these young people are already addressing the problems of tomorrow.

It was a great day in DC and I was honored to be a part of it. After spending some time with this inspiring trio, I was impressed that they were more interested in learning from each other, instead of being recognized for their own knowledge. Maybe something

for the rest of us to ponder?

4 Responses to A Great Day in DC

  1. Ben Harder says:

    I was lucky enough to be seated at Terri’s table at the Intel STS dinner last month, and I agree it was quite a night. Colin Powell’s speech was particularly memorable, and he made a strong argument that our education system should nurture not only the top-performing students — which includes all 40 of the Intel finalists, obviously — but also those B and C students who have hidden potential. Powell said that he himself had had a hard time finishing college. Didn’t stop him from becoming chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff!
    Ben Harder – U.S.News

  2. Steven Otto says:

    Reading Ms. Kokinda’s article reminds me of the magnificence of our most precious resource, the leaders and the hope for a brighter future. In these days of international and fiscal chaos it is indeed so very refreshing seeing the accomplishments of our future generations. God Bless them and all organizations that promote these successes.

  3. I was so impressed by the finalists. They were focused and concerned about transforming our quality of life. Their parents were so proud. Colin Powell’s remarks at the dinner were powerful. He asked that the finalists reach out to students who may not be as focused, to give back by bringing someone else along. There are so many talented youth in this country that may not be aware of their gifts. STEM professions are exciting and important–we need to attract more boys and girls to them at an early age.
    Helene Lerner – CEO, Creative Expansions – Emmy Award-winning executive producer

  4. Elizabeth Coquillette says:

    This was such a great experience for all three of us. It was so interesting to meet three Congress members who I have read about in the newspapers but who I have never had the chance to meet in person until I came to D.C. I was impressed that each of them took time out of their busy schedules to speak with students like us and to do their part to support science and technology, and I really liked seeing the buildings and offices where important government decisions are being made. Thanks so much to each of them for meeting with us, and also to Terri and everyone else at Intel and SSP for making our amazing week in Washington possible. The Intel STS is truly an experience I will never forget.