"Science, technology and engineering are so important for this country as we move forward," said Bob Carling, director of Sandia's Transportation Energy Center. "We hope every one of these award recipients continues to have the same enthusiasm they've already shown for these subjects."
Now in its 22nd year, the Math and Science Awards program is sponsored by the Sandia Women's Connection.
Teachers from 11 high schools in Pleasanton, Livermore, Dublin, Tracy and Manteca nominated two students from each of their schools, one for outstanding achievement in math and one for outstanding achievement in science.
The award is given to young women in their junior year of high school so they can include it on their college and scholarship applications.
Before the recognitions began, the awardees and their families met their Sandia hosts, women with careers in math and science. Sandia researcher Donna Djordjevich-Reyna shared her Ground Truth Homeland Security training video game platform, which seeks to immerse first responders in an interactive gaming environment depicting high-risk, high-threat situations.
To start off the awards ceremony, mechanical engineer Patricia Gharagozloo and software engineer Karla Morris shared their personal stories. While their paths were quite different, they started with something in common: in high school, neither saw herself becoming an engineer.
Cathy Branda, the event chairwoman, explained another reason for recognizing high school juniors.
"Studies show that high school is a time when many girls decide not to pursue math and science in college and in their careers," she said. "So many doors are open to you now. You have no idea what you can accomplish by excelling in math and science."
Jocelyn Mork, mother of Granada High School science award recipient Kirsten Mork, agreed.
"I think for high school juniors who are full of angst about choosing the right college and major, this is a good message to hear, that you don't have to have it all figured out right now," she said.
"The speakers were inspiring and entertaining," said Ariana Mancieri, math award recipient from Livermore High School. "It is reassuring that they didn't know exactly what they wanted to do in high school."
Mancieri said she is considering becoming a pediatrician. She knows that she loves science, and that is a good place to start.
The winners of the 2013 Sandia Math and Science awards for outstanding achievement in mathematics and their high schools were: Jennifer Tao, Amador Valley; Annie Pan, Foothill; Kimberli Zhong, Dublin; Victoria Vezaldenos, East Union; Tatiana Jansen, Granada; Ariana Mancieri, Livermore High; Ashleigh Quynh-Trang Nguyen, Livermore Valley Charter; Anna Kepa, Manteca High; Harmanjit Kaur Sodhi, Merrill F. West High; Fabiola Lopez, Sierra West; and Inyoung Hong, Tracy High.
The winners of the 2013 Sandia Math and Science awards for outstanding achievement in science and their high schools were: Christine Xu, Amador Valley; Diane Frances Hadley, Foothill; Ming Yin Kwong, Dublin High; Brooke Niendorf, East Union; Kirsten Mork, Granada; Mariah Mathat, Livermore High; Julia DiSimone, Livermore Valley Charter; Poonam Dehal, Manteca High; Arianne Coleto, Merrill F. West High; Leonor Borges, Sierra West High; and Sarah Bai, Tracy High School.
Sandia National Laboratories is a multi-program laboratory operated by Sandia Corp., a wholly owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin company, for the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration. With main facilities in Albuquerque and Livermore, Sandia has major research and development responsibilities in national security, energy and environmental technologies and economic competitiveness.
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