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Congressman Randy Hultgren

Representing the 14th District of ILLINOIS

STEM Scholars Graduate in Ceremony Featuring Bill Nye, Fermilab Director Lockyer and Lt. Gov. Sanguinetti

Jul 10, 2018
Press Release

Campton Hills, IL — On Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren (IL-14) hosted a STEM Scholars graduation ceremony featuring Lieutenant Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti, Fermilab Director Nigel Lockyer and Bill Nye, CEO of The Planetary Society, via SKYPE. In addition, STEM Scholars Sofia Ballesteros, Sabrina Lutfiyeva and Sophie McComb delivered remarks on their experiences over the past year.

Held at FONA International in Geneva, the event celebrated the second class of STEM Scholars (#STEMScholars), a 14th Congressional District youth leadership program encouraging high school students to become ambassadors in their communities for the possibilities provided by science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Click here for additional pictures from the event.

(Bill Nye addresses students and parents via SKYPE)

(Rep. Hultgren with 2018 STEM Scholars graduation class)

“This second class of STEM Scholars was excited and engaged throughout the year, and their enthusiasm was on full display at graduation at FONA International. The students and parents were especially excited to hear from Bill Nye, Lt. Gov. Sanguinetti and Director Lockyer about the careers and opportunities ahead in STEM. I was especially inspired by the speeches of three of our STEM Scholars. This class is well on its way, and I cannot wait to see what these students will accomplish in science, medicine, education, business and more,” said Rep. Hultgren.

(Lt. Gov. Sanguinetti delivers address to students and parents)

“My experience with being a part of the STEM Scholars program was absolutely eye-opening. Going to the STEM meetings also helped me become a better student in school….I learned about the many job opportunities that the world has to offer,” said Sofia Ballesteros of Oswego High School. “I also learned that there is a possibility that my career will involve criminal justice because I found everything about our visit to the Kendall County Police Station in Yorkville interesting; from the blood exhibit to the fingerprint exhibit.”

“I went into STEM programs with the idea that I could do it on my own, but…I was exposed to an idea that was bigger than myself; humans are social beings, we needed the help and collaboration of our peers, elders, and experts to grow, experiment, fail and excel,” said Sabrina Lutfiyeva of West Chicago Community High School. “At the end of the day, I look back at the vulnerable junior year girl and I look at her now, and I see the difference: in confidence, leadership, passion…The girl who was once vulnerable is standing on this stage here today, telling you to let yourself be vulnerable, be passionate and give credit to a program that got her here.”

(STEM Scholar Sabrina Lutfiyeva delivers remarks)

“Thanks to the STEM Scholars program, as all of us scholars step out into the world, we have become not only better students and citizens, but better responders to change. Although we hail from different schools, backgrounds, and towns, participating in this program has allowed us to form connections not only with the titans of the local STEM and business industries, but with each other, forming the friendships and partnerships that last a lifetime,” said Sophie McComb of Sycamore High School. “This program has empowered me, empowered all of us to take these issues, these problems that plague our societies into our own hands-- to think beyond age and resource to create solutions that will only become more needed as our generation grows.”

This past school year, Rep. Hultgren and the STEM Scholars tackled microbiology with community college faculty, learned about food flavoring science and career and industry trends, got their hands dirty cleaning out invasive species and studying ecology alongside scientists at a retreat and ecology center, visited the shop floor of a local manufacturer to see how the company makes and customizes forklifts for their customers, practiced forensic science and law enforcement investigative techniques at a sheriff’s and coroner’s offices, viewed a sub-ice rover used to conduct research in Antarctica and tested out laser cutters at a local university, and saw up-close how infrared countermeasures keep aircraft safe and the science behind NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope alongside engineers at a large government contractor, among other experiences.

Rep. Hultgren is member of the House Committee on Space, Science and Technology and co-chairman of the STEM Education Caucus.