Tuesday, August 8, 2017 || LETTERS || @maywoodnews
Earlier this year, Maywood resident and Proviso East student Anahi Soto was selected among students nationally to attend the Congress of Future Science and Technology Leaders — a prestigious program that’s exclusively for honors high school students who are passionate about studying in the STEM (science, technology, engineering or mathematics) fields. She writes about her experiences at the congress below:
On June 29, Richard Rossi, the host, gave his presentation on why we, as intelligent students from around the country, were all gathered here today. He said that each one of us has a gift and that we are trying too hard to be perfect at one thing that we neglect to use what he calls the triple threat. Basically, it’s utilizing the top three things you are good at and perfecting the idea that arises from them.
Once the nine speakers each finished their stories with us, there were common pieces of advice that were apparent throughout the congress: don’t be afraid to fail, do what you love to do, and the key to happiness is to do what makes you happy while making a profit. This was a caring experience, much like talking to your parents or wise mentor.
Sean Stephenson, I will say, was one of the most beloved speakers there, who was the very definition of a living success. He was predicted to die at birth because of a rare bone disorder he’d had throughout his life. He has had dreams to be the president and he may not have been the president but was given the honor to work in the White House.
This person has touched my heart with his mission to enlighten people who are willing to listen. If he could do all that he has done with his disability then why can’t I pursue my dreams?
Anahi Soto, middle, pictured with her aunt and sister. | Submitted photo
On June 30, the congress resumed promptly at 10 A.M., with the first speaker being Paige Brown, a chemical engineer and materials scientist. I really connected with her. She talked about her invention that removed phosphate pollutants from bodies of water. I love helping the environment and love that she’s doing something about it as a student at Stanford University.
Paige also said that as she attempted to create this material, she failed many times. But she used her failures to better her progress.
Then there was Kenneth Lacovara, who dug up the famous Dreadnoughts — a 65-ton dinosaur. Currently, Mr. Lacovara is studying to shift our perspective on herbivores. He brought up interesting information about how dinosaurs are more closely related to birds than many other animals. For example, a penguin is more closely related to dinosaurs than many other earlier ancestors.
Erik Finman, a bright young man with a bet to fulfill, was also an inspiration to me. He made a bet with his parents that if he made $1 million dollars, he wouldn’t have to go to college. He invested in Bitcoin at the age of 12 years old. By the age of 15, his investment had grown to $100,000.
Erik told his teachers about his proposal and was discouraged. In the end, he won the bet at the age of 18. He departed the stage saying that set-backs, people who don’t believe in you and that believing in yourself, makes success a bit sweeter. Everything and anything is possible with an open mind and confidence.
On the other hand, Carl Dietrich, the leader of the emerging modern flying car industry, found that pressure provides progress if you allow it to. He had investors aid in his efforts to found the project, so with the endless questioning of when it will fly provided the needed persistence to finally get the car off the ground.
On July 1, the congress closed with its closing remarks from the prestigious speakers, and we were also sworn into the Society of Torch & Laurel. The congress had many people that defined determination and promise for the future.
Luckily, I befriended some people who will one day change life as we know it. It was truly mind-blowing to witness some of the latest technological advances, such as a flying car prototype or a new generation of robots.
I recommend that anyone who dreams of going into the STEM field to go for it. If that is what you love to do go for it. That is something that I was taught for so many people that I can’t help but believe that it’s true. I feel more prepared to study engineering at Stanford University. I have seen the possibilities for others, so I know I can grasp this opportunity for my success. Anyone and everyone can do great things. That is what I walked away with from the congress.
I thank my dad, Francisco, for always pushing me to follow my dreams and shoot for the stars. My family has always been supportive of my dreams — whether it was encouraging me as I was building things or cheering me up when things didn’t go right.
I also thank the Maywood community. They have taken an interest in my dream when they didn’t have to. I thank Proviso East High School, Stevenson Middle School and Lincoln Elementary School staff members — the students, teachers, counselors, principals and assistant principals. You are the people who nurture the future and I thank you for helping me get to where I am. I know that sometimes you are under-appreciated, but I want you to know you are recognized.
We are rising, because we are nothing but the best! We all stand together, creating a better future we all participate in. I thank you all with all my heart! The Village of the Eternal Light shines brighter today!
— Anahi Soto, Maywood