CHARLESTON, W.Va.– After arriving at Yeager Airport on Wednesday, delegates from across the country and world began to meet each other and make friends with the other recent high school graduates they will be working with for the next month at the 2018 National Youth Science Camp.
One hundred seven students went through the highly competitive selection process to be able to be a part of this year’s camp in Pocahontas County. These teens were selected based on merit and personal achievements.
NYSC focuses on providing a program based on STEM to prepare those selected for careers in the field and it is free to those who are admitted.
Francesca Garafulic Justiniano arrived from Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia and said she is really looking forward to what NYSC has to offer.
“When I was first introduced to this program I was told it was for high school seniors that had very good English and also very good grades, and you have to be really passionate about science,” she said. “I immediately thought, ‘This program is for me’, so I applied and luckily I got in, and I’m just really excited for everything.”
Justiniano recently graduated from Colegio Alemán Santa Cruz. Her college plans are undecided as of now, but she does plan on majoring in biology.
18 countries are being represented in this year’s group of students, and Erin Beck, public information coordinator, said the next month is filled with activities.
“They will prepare for futures in STEM fields, they will get to experience outdoor activities and they will also get to learn to live in the moment,” she said. “It’s everything from learning about gravitational waves and cosmic collisions to learning about how removing barriers between scientific disciplines can improve innovations. They’re going to be renewing their interests and excitement for the natural world out in the natural world, not in front of a computer.”
NYSC has been bringing the best students from around the globe to West Virginia since 1963 and is made possible through the National Youth Science Foundation, a nonprofit organization whose mission is “to honor, sustain, and encourage youth interest and excellence in science by conducting comprehensive informal science education programs that provide opportunity for constructive interaction with others and emphasize the social value of thoughtful scientific careers”.
Seoyoon Kim arrived from Phoenix, Arizona and said this will give her the opportunity to expand her knowledge in science.
“I thought it’d be a really cool opportunity for to get into the field of science outside of my comfort zone a bit and to learn a bunch of new things from people all across the nation and from countries outside of the U.S. as well and to have that while also getting to experience nature which I don’t get to do a lot of at home,” she said.
Kim graduated from BASIS Peoria in Phoenix and plans on attending Harvard University in the fall majoring in biology. She hopes to become a pediatric surgeon.
Beck said that NYSC does scout some students to apply for the program; however, many find out in other ways and apply.
“We reach out to governors’ offices, we also reach out to schools, some of them find out about it through the media but it all goes back to us,” she said.
Andres Choque Garcia is from La Paz, Bolivia and said that applying to NYSC was an easy decision.
“It would be a really good look when I apply for colleges to put this on my resume, and it will be a really good opportunity to grow into a stronger person and meet new people who have the same goals as I do,” he said.
Garcia is a graduate of Highlands International School and plans to study robotics engineering and technology in college.
Justininao, Kim nor Garcia had visited West Virginia before and all said they were very excited to see the state. Beck said that they will get the see the beauty the state has and said she hopes that the culture has an effect on them.
“They will to meet some West Virginians, so they’ll get to see how welcoming we are,” she said. “They will also see how much we love the state, which I hope will rub off on them a little bit.”
The 107 delegates will be spending the next month in Bartow, West Virginia and will be getting to do what they love– learning.
Story by Jordyn Johnson