Just among friends

The National Academy of Future Scientists and Technologists holds a very unique gathering each year.  It is the “Congress of Future Scientists and Technology Leaders”.  It is unique because there is no other national gathering in which thousands of the country’s most gifted high school students come together with the brightest scientific and technological minds of today.

Mason Payne, a Neshoba Central student, was nominated by one of his teachers to attend and was accepted.  This year’s Congress was held in Lowell, Massachusetts, on the campus of the University of Massachusetts in Lowell on June 29th through July 1.  Mason’s mother, Leigh McDaniel, grandmother, Kim Hardy, his sister, Paisley Grace McDaniel, and brother, Cooper McDaniel, started several days before Mason had to register for the conference and drove to Boston along a scenic route.

They stopped in several scenic spots through the mountains in North Carolina along the Blue Ridge Parkway.  They visited Washington, D.C., where they toured our Nation’s Capital, including the marvelous Smithsonian Museum, the beautiful marble buildings, and took a night bus tour of the city with all of its famous monuments illuminated. They discovered the Yoko Ono Wishing Tree in the National Mall’s Sculpture Garden and everyone wrote a wish on a tag and tied it on the tree.  They even made one for Daddy who was not with them.  They reached Boston and checked into their hotel.  Mason had to register the next day at the conference.

The Congress convened at the Paul Tsongas Center on the campus where they listened to an opening speaker who was excellent.  The hall was filled with thousands of students and many Ph. D.’s.

These people are CEO’s of their own companies in various scientific fields, professors from prominent universities who teach subject matter and conduct research in science and technology, and others who mentor students and help prepare them for gaining admission into these universities. They had been selected for their expertise in many different areas in the fields of science an technology to speak to the students.

Mason was immersed in a pool of some of the brightest and most gifted people in the nation.  The three day Congress was filled with motivating experiences, and a wealth of knowledge about advanced science and technology.  It gave students a broader insight as to their future career choices.

The trip home was filled with more sightseeing.  They drove to New York City and went on a bus tour.  One sight they were excited to see was the Statue of Liberty in the harbor. They had such a good time in the City. Niagara Falls was a wet, but awesome experience.  The sound and sight of all that water cascading into the river below was amazing.

It had been an exciting trip, but everyone was ready to come home.  Leigh couldn’t wait to see her race horse, Bottoms Up, run at the Fair Grounds and the rest of her family.  There was another honor waiting for Mason when he arrived home.  Senator Thad Cochran had written a letter commending him for being selected to represent Mississippi at this prestigious event.  It made his family very proud.