My name is Leah Rogstad and I had the amazing privilege to attend the National Youth Science Camp this summer as a representative for Vermont. I am writing to express my immense gratitude to you for supporting this extraordinary program.
When I discovered I would be attending the National Youth Science Camp, I was wary about what it entailed: would I be surrounded by a bunch of geniuses who only wanted to talk about subatomic particles? Would we spend all day studying the periodic table? I wasn’t sure what to expect. Now, six days after returning from NYSC, I can’t imagine how my life would be without the camp. Not only did I spend time with groundbreaking researchers, learning about breast cancer treatments and how to send information back in time, but I also dissected a human arm and listened to the thoughts of some of the most influential science policy experts in the world. I saw the world’s largest moving telescope, rode a train to the top of a mountain, slept at West Virginia’s highest peak, and met my state senator. I learned to swing dance, make brigadeiros (a Brazilian dessert), and mountain bike through scenic pastures. I cannot even begin to list all of the opportunities I had to learn information and try new things. I feel like I have packed a year’s worth of experiences into four weeks. Although I am still unsure of the career that I plan to pursue, I feel confident that I want to pursue science and work directly to improve others’ lives. My perspective, not only academically, but also culturally, has been infinitely widened. I cannot thank you enough for helping to change the way I think and open my eyes to new opportunities.
Despite all of these amazing experiences, however, this camp was most life-changing because of the people with whom I was surrounded. Not only did I have the privilege to meet people from all over the United States, but I also became friends with people from all over the world. Coming from a small town in a rural state, I would have never had such a unique opportunity to make connections and build friendships that will last for the rest of my life. This upcoming year, I am taking a gap year to travel to Peru and teach English. I can now say that while I’m in South America, I will be able to visit friends not only in Peru, but in Chile and Ecuador as well. Thank you for enabling me to make friends from across the globe.
I hope that you can continue to support the National Youth Science Camp in future years. The camp truly is a life-changing experience and it is people like you who enable upcoming generations to explore their potential and gain confidence. I will forever hold my memories of camp near to my heart and will feel appreciation for contributors like you who made my camp experience possible.