Dear Sir or Madam,
I am Lauren Stephens, a high school senior at North Central High School. Recently, I was selected to attend the National Youth Science Camp. I am honored to be one of Indiana’s delegates and I want to thank you for this opportunity. I have attended several camps in the past and I recognize that this event includes not only the opportunity to listen to lectures in all different fields, but also the opportunity to interact and collaborate with delegates from all fifty states and several other countries. Thank you for giving me not only an amazing three weeks, but also a network of mentors, friends, and alumni that will last a lifetime.
As I am going to college at MIT this coming year, it will be essential for me to collaborate with other students and form bonds that extend not only over time, but also geographic distance. I talked with students from Argentina, Germany, Chile and other nations in addition to those from Indiana and other states. The program was amazing, exciting and inspiring. This camp also gave me the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors. A significant portion of the program was related nature including climbing, hiking, kayaking, biking, and camping. The program brought together the best of science and nature and allowed me to explore the connections. I was particularly thankful for the opportunity to be outdoors as I will be going to college in a larger city.
I also intend to pass on these opportunities to others. Last year after being invited to attend two other free programs, I decided to give back to the community by starting a free program of my own. I organized three other students to found MathMania, a free one-week camp for middle-school students. Serving as the director for the first year of the program, I realized how much effort, time, and resources go into to making an exciting and fun event. I also bring what I learned from camps back to my peers at my school and in my community. While attending the Research Science Institute last year, I learned the fundamentals of the research project. When I returned, I started a research project of my own. I guided a classmate, Boning Han, through the research process and together our project won a 3rd place award at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. I hope this year to serve as a mentor for two younger students should they pursue a research project. If any future delegates would like to speak with someone who has been to the camp – either to decide whether to go or what to pack – I would be happy to help them. The camp is a truly unique experience that is meant not for scientists but for Renaissance men and women. At NYSC I learned about science, but I also learned far more about nature, music, writing, and sports. One lecture in particular on starting a medical clinic in a developing country stuck with me. Combined with stories from the outdoor guides, it has inspired me to try to become EMT certified at MIT. Although I am not currently pursuing medical school, I want to be able to take care of others in an emergency and the camp has shown me another way to do so.
I am deeply touched by the time, effort, and resources the National Youth Science Camp dedicates to its delegates, and I thank you for allowing me to attend. It is a privilege to be selected from all the worthy students in Indiana. The sacrifices that my community has made for me inspire me to try to make the most of every opportunity I have been given. I continue to be astounded by the sacrifices that my friends, family, teachers, mentors, and organizations such as this have made for me. It takes a community to raise a child – and this community has done well. Thank you again for the opportunity to attend NYSC.
Lauren Stephens, 2010 NYSC – Indiana