Ting Gao (Mount Saint Mary Academy, Kenmore, NY) Finding that many students with special needs or financial difficulties whom she tutored at her local library couldn’t afford basic school supplies, Ting wanted to find a way to help. She founded a student-run non-profit that provides essential school supplies year round, not just during the back-to-school time period. The group pays for them by collecting empty ink cartridges and old electronics from local businesses, essentially establishing a “recycling network.” The 50-member student-run organization has distributed more than a thousand items at five high schools in Western New York—including two new printers and five laptop computers. She plans to study biomedical engineering at Yale.
Chinanu Gubor (Hill Regional Career High School, New Haven, CT) Chinanu, who was born and raised in the US, was concerned that children in her family’s village in Nigeria lacked basic information to protect themselves from disease. To help them learn about hygiene, first aid and disease prevention, she developed creative, illustrated kid-friendly teaching materials and raised funds to distribute them along with first aid kits to 470 children in the village—the start, she hopes, of a health curriculum that will help them recognize, avoid, and treat malaria and typhoid. She will study Pre-Med/Physiology and Neurobiology at the University of Connecticut.
Kianjai Huggan (Housatonic Valley Regional High School, Falls Village, CT) Kianjai became interested in finding a Smartphone software program that would help blind people better scan signs, books and other items after discovering the struggle a friend of hers had with having to read Braille as a germophobe. Kianjai developed the coding for a program that will allow Braille to be read through a camera and spoken out as audio, allowing Braille text to be read at the touch of a button. She is developing software that will be compatible with Braille keyboards. She plans to study computer science at the University of Connecticut.
Abigail Kelly (Sacred Heart Academy, Hamden, CT) Aware of the role that the lack of disinfectants play in spreading disease in Africa, Abigail devised an experiment to convert mangoes and oranges into ethanol using a simple fermentation/distillation process and researched the economics involved. She found that converting surplus fruit to ethanol could economically produce large amounts of effective alcohol-based disinfectant for hand sanitizers and other uses that could help stem the spread of Ebola and other infectious disease in poor West African countries. She is a high school junior.
Xerxes Libsch (Regis High School, New York, NY) Returning to an area in which he had camped as a child, Xerxes was appalled to see manure and animal waste polluting a stream that fed into drinking water reservoirs serving New York City, and invasive species of plants crippling the local ecosystem. After researching the best ways to restore and revive the ecology of the farm and the area around it, he inspired and led many volunteers to dig a new waste management system, remove invasive plants, and build a learning center that will serve the public for years to come. He plans to study mechanical engineering at Princeton.
Helen Liu (Amity Regional High School, Orange, CT) Aware that lysosome dysfunction in cells reduces their ability to break down, recycle and reuse materials—a problem that can lead to disorders such as Gaucher Disease—Helen sought to find an efficient and low-cost way to support healthy lysosome function using chaperone-based therapy. Her experiment paves the way for a novel drug treatment for Gaucher Disease. She plans to study biochemistry at Brown University.
Sabina London (Northern Valley Regional High School, Demarest, NJ) Troubled by the lack of girls in her advanced science and math classes freshman year in high school, Sabina founded “Girls Science Interactive,” a non-profit that provides free STEM summer camps for elementary- and middle-school girls. Focused around group discussions and hands-on experiments, the girls who attend the camp learn about topics such as energy and matter, global warming and renewable energy, astronomy, chemistry and neuroscience. Sabina has worked with other high school and college students to organize similar camps in their communities, and has helped raise funds for them. Camps are now offered in Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. She plans to study biology or cognitive and brain sciences at Tufts University.
2016 Honorable Mentions
(School Without Walls, Washington DC) Yamiya conducted an innovative and ambitious aerospace engineering study to determine how to increase fuel efficiency in aircraft by evaluating wing geometry and other aspects of an aircraft’s construction. She plans to study aeronautical engineering at New York University.
(Hill Regional Career High School, New Haven, CT) After researching the issue herself, Isabelle devised creative ways of making students in both privileged and underserved communities near her home more aware of the complex issue of education inequality. She will study political science at the University of Connecticut.
Catherine Hua (Brooklyn Technical High School, Brooklyn, NY) Concerned by the fact that antibiotic-resistant bacteria increasingly challenge the effectiveness of current antibiotics, Catherine Hua conducted an innovative experiment to synthesize novel antibiotics that would be less vulnerable to antibiotic-resistant bacteria. She will study biochemistry at Johns Hopkins University.
Dongbeom Eem (Saratoga High School, Saratoga, California) Tapping into both his passion for music and desire to help others, Dongbeom created, the Great Ensemble of Musicians, a program that encourages advanced students to give free music lessons to younger students in his high school and that increased students’ proficiency as musicians and also helped develop a sense of community at the school. He will study economics and history at Columbia University.
Ariel Creamer (Edward R. Murrow High School, Brooklyn, New York) After watching Hurricane Sandy destroy her community, Ariel created Survivors Silver Lining. Using Facebook to match generous donors with children who had lost cherished items in the storm, she got a large Lego collection to a child who loved Legos but had lost his own, and over sixty bikes to replace bikes lost in the storm. She is a high school junior.
Jonas Lustbader (Hamden Hall Country Day School, Hamden, CT) To encourage a love of reading among children with few books in their homes, Jonas created The Gift of Words, an organization that has presented over 1300 kindergarten through fourth-grade children with individually-selected books on their birthdays. He is a high school junior.
Anuoluwapo Osibajo (The Frederick Douglass Academy, New York City) Anuoluwapo created a free photo-journalism publication, “OKIDS,” to explore serious issues such as poverty and hunger for a diverse global audience of children in the United States, United Kingdom the Philippines, Japan, and Ethiopia. She plans to major in political science and economics at Georgetown University.
Tessa Southwell (Palos Verdes Peninsula High School, Rolling Hills Estates, California) Having had her own love of writing sparked by her involvement in the newspaper she co-founded in her elementary school, Tessa organized PressFriends, a student volunteer group that helps 3000 diverse and underprivileged elementary-school students create, design, and run newspapers in their schools. She also created a range of other programs that help volunteer student mentors inspire children to explore creative opportunities they would not otherwise be able to experience or afford. She will study acting at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.
Nicholas Serrambana (Classical Magnet High School, Hartford, Connecticut) Fascinated by the accessibility of music and its potential to serve as a catalyst for change, Nicholas organized a multifaceted conference (that included improvisation workshops and hands-on playing experiences). He also organized a music festival that attracted hundreds of people from across Connecticut and that raised funds for a charity dedicated to mental health issues that honored a child killed at Sandy Hook Elementary. He will study philosophy and math at Yale.
This release was updated on 10/5/16 to include the amount awarded in renewal scholarships.
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