Greetings to 2017 years finalists from the winner of 2015!
Stockholm Junior Water Prize Experience – A Message to Incoming Students
When I began my research (almost four years ago from this day!), I couldn’t have imagined that it would take me all the way to Stockholm, Sweden to represent the Texas and the United States at the 2015 Stockholm Junior Water Prize (SJWP); however, the last week of August, I was given that remarkable and unforgettable opportunity. Upon arriving in Stockholm along with Ms. Stevi Hunt-Cottrell, the national organizer of the US SJWP, and my high school science teacher, Ms. Ashley Poloha, I headed over to the Scandic Klara where I met the other SJWP participants who represented 29 different countries! Initially, I was a bit intimidated by the diversity of students and thought that it would be difficult to interact with students from such different backgrounds; as time progressed though, I soon found my fears were unfounded as we shared many similar interests from sports to film to science.
Together, we shared many formative experiences, from witnessing some of Stockholm’s most captivating sights such as the Old City, the Nobel Museum, and the City Hall to exploring the innovative exhibits at World Water Week in Stockholm. I came to the profound realization soon that it didn’t matter that we spoke such different languages or had such different experiences- an unfettered thirst for scientific discovery flowed in our veins and that alone superseded our dissimilarities. I found a true family at the Stockholm Junior Water Prize, a family that was global, powerful, and inexorable.
On the day of judging, we all had the opportunity to share our research with both the jury and each other; I found myself continually inspired by my fellow finalists and their firm commitment to elevate society through science and technology. Moreover, I found that the jury was not only knowledgeable and kind, but also very supportive- they praised the strengths of the project and gave helpful suggestions to further its progression. The following evening, we all headed over to the Grand Hotel for the SJWP ceremony and had the opportunity to wave our country’s flag as we walked on the stage. When walking across the stage while wielding the American flag, I felt a distinct sense of pride, that was mirrored by my fellow finalists as they walked with their own flags, for being able to represent my country on account of a cause so fundamental to the well-being and collective quality of the life in the world.
Attending the 2015 Stockholm Junior Water Prize as a representative of Texas and the United States is an honor I will never forget and winning it was something I had never imagined. I feel so blessed to have been given the opportunity, which certainly would not have been possible without the support of the Barron Lab at Rice University, the sponsors of the SJWP, Ms. Stevi Hunt-Cottrell, Ms. Poloha, and my family. However, the most valuable part of the experience was without doubt the long-lasting friendships I made with the other participants. As you embark upon your very own Stockholm Junior Water Prize experience, I urge you to cherish those serendipitous friendships for life and maintain your unwavering commitment to using science, engineering, and technology to make a difference in this world.