One Santa Clarita Christian School honor student made a trip across the country to meet with Nobel Laureates, National Medal of Science recipients and like-minded students who are passionate about science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM).
Tenth grade student David Okonowski was nominated by Dr. John C. Mather, winner of Nobel Prize in Physics and Science and the Director of the National Academy of Future Scientists and Technologists, to act as a delegate at The Congress of Future Science and Technology Leaders.
“This is a crucial time in America when we need more nimble-minded and creative scientists and technologists who are even better prepared for a future that is changing exponentially,” said Richard Rossi, executive director of the National Academy of Future Scientists and Technologists in a statement. “Focused, bright and determined students like David are our future and he deserves all the mentoring and guidance we can give him.”
The three-day Congress and academy in Lowell, Mass. offers free services and learning programs for students who want to learn more about their future in science and technology.
During the Congress, students hear advice from the deans of the world’s top tech universities, speak to teen science prodigies, learn about cutting-edge advances and leave inspired to pursue careers in a STEM-related field.
Students are nominated by teachers, counselors and principals who serve on the National Academy of Future Scientists and Technologists’ Honorary Board of Educators and are selected to represent their schools based on their academic achievement, leadership potential and passion for science and technology.
“It was a surprise to be nominated for this conference, since I had never heard of it before,” Okonowski said. “I am honored to be even considered for this conference and I’m eager to learn more about my passion.”
After he graduates, Okonowski plans on studying physics and engineering in college.
“I hope this conference can help me focus in on what I want to study in college and what would prepare me for work in the field of science,” he said. “I have been impacted by speakers from the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) who have helped my understanding of science and how it shows the order of the universe.”
Okonowski said this idea of “order” in STEM subjects is what drew him to science, engineering, math and technology.
“It is really neat to see how they all fit together and how they point to an ordered universe,” he said. “From the smallest atom to the largest galaxy, from the smallest fraction to the endless bounds of infinity, everything in the universe points to a designer.”
During the Congress, Okonowski said he is most looking forward to meeting people who have already experienced things he hopes to accomplish during his life and interacting with students from around the country.
“I hope to see my future in the speakers at this conference so that I can plan ahead for what I want to do with my life,” Okonowski said. “I also look forward to meeting people that will hopefully remain my peers in future years.”
The Congress will also teach students about how to stay motivated, pursue degrees and careers in science and technology, develop mentors in fields and navigate the college landscape.
“I hope to not only learn more about science and physics but also to learn how to succeed as a scientist and physicist,” Okonowski said. “The subjects themselves are simply knowledge; how to succeed is a life skill.”