Congress to Honor Youth Nationwide with Congressional Award Gold Medal

Contact:
Derek Doyle – (301) 676-3882, doyle@congressionalaward.org
Martine Charles – (206) 295-9114, martine@marcglobalcommunications.com
Sharon Liggins – (818) 207-5027, sharon.liggins@gmail.com
Washington, DC


What: Members of the United States Senate and House of Representatives will recognize 538 youth across 42 states and territories at the 2019 Congressional Award Gold Medal Ceremony.

The Congressional Award Gold Medal is the highest honor a member of Congress may bestow upon a youth civilian. For a minimum of two years, each Gold Medalist has logged at least 800 hours across four program areas: Voluntary Public Service, Personal Development, Physical Fitness, and Expedition/Exploration.

The 2019 Gold Medal class is the largest in the program’s 40-year history.

Who: Approximately 1,000 attendees, including Members of Congress, youth Gold Medalists and family/friends, corporate and community leaders, and partnering organizations.

When & Where:

Thursday, June 20, 2019 | Gold Medal Ceremonies
U.S Capitol Visitor Center – Congressional Auditorium
First St NE, Washington, DC 20515

10:00 a.m. | Ceremony I
Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Utah, and Wyoming.

Confirmed Guest Speakers: U.S. Senator Mitt Romney and Horizon Awardee Gail Miller (Owner of Utah Jazz, Co-Founder of Larry H. Miller Group of Companies).

12:30 p.m. | Ceremony II
Alabama, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, Missouri, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas.

Confirmed Guest Speaker: U.S. Representative Richard Hudson (NC-08)

3:00 p.m. | Ceremony III
Arizona, Armed Services Abroad, California, Colorado, Florida, New Jersey, Oregon, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.

Confirmed Guest Speakers: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, U.S. Representative Brian Mast (FL-18), and Inspiration Awardee Lynn Lyons.

Friday, June 21, 2019 | Panel Discussions

8:30 – 10:00 a.m. | A Lifetime of Service
Library of Congress – Thomas Jefferson Building – The Member’s Room
9101 Independence Ave SE, Washington, DC 20540

Panelists: Gina Cross (AmeriCorps NCCC), Steve Culbertson (Youth Service America), Maura Fulton (Peace Corps), Javier LaFianza (HOBY), U.S. Representative Doris Matsui (CA-06)

Moderator: Jevin Hodge (LINK Strategic Partners)

8:30 – 10:00 a.m. | Entrepreneurship
2168 Rayburn House Office Building – The Gold Room
45 Independence Ave SW, Washington, DC 20515

Panelists: Michael Akin (LINK Strategic Partners), Sandra Evers-Manly (Northrop Grumman), Mark Ein (Entrepreneur & Investor), Cece Morken (Intuit), U.S. Representative Nydia Velazquez (NY-07)

Moderator: Sanyin Siang (COLE, Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business)

1:30 – 3:00 p.m. | Travel with Purpose
2168 Rayburn House Office Building – The Gold Room
45 Independence Ave SW, Washington, DC 20515

Panelists: Merrill Eisenhower Atwater (People to People International), Dr. Alex Cromwell (George Washington University), George Stone (National Geographic Travel)

Moderator: Angie Ange (Angie Ange in the Morning, College is Cool Inc.)

1:30 – 3:00 p.m. | Empowering Women
National Museum of Women in the Arts
1250 New York Ave NW, Washington, DC 20005

Panelists: Gina Adams (FedEx), Susan Fisher Sterling (NMWA), Gail Miller (Larry H. Miller Group of Companies, Utah Jazz)

Moderator: Jessica Grounds (Mine the Gap)

3:30 – 5:00 p.m. | Sports, Health, and Wellness
Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy
3675 Ely Pl SE, Washington, DC 20019

Panelists: John Bramlette (Washington Nationals Dream Foundation), Derrick Dockery (Former NFL Player), Pops Mensah-Bonsu (GM of the Capital City Go-Go), Tanya Vogel (George Washington University).

Moderators: Tommy McFly and Kelly Collis (The Tommy Show)

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Media Information: Gold Medalist contact information and award biographies are available upon request.

PRESS KIT   GOLD MEDALIST LIST   EVENT INFO


The Congressional Award is the U.S. Congress’ only charity and award program for youth. Established by Congress as a public-private partnership in 1979 under Public Law 96-114, the program recognizes initiative, service, and achievement in youth ages 13 ½ – 23.

Remembering the ‘Senator’s Senator’ Thad Cochran

June 5, 2019 (Washington, D.C.) – The Congressional Award family is saddened to hear of the passing of former U.S. Senator Thad Cochran.

Senator Cochran (5th from right) recognizes Congressional Award recipients in 2000.

Serving in Congress for more than four decades, in both the Senate and House, Thad was affectionately known as the “quiet persuader.” Soft spoken, but powerful. He represented elegance and civility in policy-making.

The Congressional Award Foundation was fortunate enough to work with Senator Cochran on multiple initiatives in Mississippi. As a nation, we will strive to use his example of dignity and respect in our pursuits and daily interactions.

Our condolences are with Thad’s far-reaching band of supporters during this time of grieving.

Gail Miller Selected as Horizon Award Recipient

Washington, DC (May 12, 2019)  — The Congressional Award Foundation will honor Gail Miller with the Horizon Award at the annual Gold Medal Ceremony on Capitol Hill on June 20, 2019.

Photo: Larry H. Miller Group of Companies

A special recognition from the Joint Leadership Commission of The Congressional Award Foundation and its Board of Directors, the Horizon Award recognizes individuals from the private sector who “have worked to expand opportunities for all Americans through their own personal contributions.”

Previous recipients include Drew Brees, America Ferrera, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Bob Lanier, Wynton Marsalis, Cal Ripken, Jr., Pat and Emmitt Smith, and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

“Gail embodies the spirit of this award by demonstrating thought for others in her decision-making and using her influence to shape communities for the better,” said Paxton K. Baker, Chairman of The Congressional Award National Board of Directors. “Gail’s story is about finding true individuality and her life’s work serves as an extraordinary example for our nation’s youth, particularly young women.”

Most would recognize the late Larry H. (d. 2009) and Gail Miller for establishing one of the largest privately-owned group of companies in the western United States, with ownership of over 60 car dealerships, the Utah Jazz, Megaplex Theatres, and more.

But in the decade following Larry’s passing, Gail has shown the importance of resolve and drive and been a source of inspiration for many seeking to find their identity.

In April 2018, Gail published the book “Courage to Be You: Inspiring Lessons from an Unexpected Journey.”

The book’s central focus is about finding purpose. Gail shares personal anecdotes about the role faith played in shaping her as a person, the strength of women, and how she measures wealth.

“The success and the money and the worldly things that we have are not where I count my wealth. My wealth is counted in relationships, being able to provide jobs for people where they can support their family and live good lives. Those are the things that really drove us,” stated Gail in a March 2018 interview with Deseret News.

Today, Gail Miller is the owner of the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies and serves as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Larry H. Miller Management Corporation. Gail also presides over the Larry H. Miller Education Foundation and the Larry H. and Gail Miller Family Foundation, which support charitable, educational, and humanitarian causes.

Learn more about the Horizon Award here.

About
The Congressional Award is the United States Congress’ only charity and the highest honor bestowed upon a youth civilian through the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Established by Congress as a public-private partnership in 1979 under Public Law 96-114, the program recognizes initiative, service, and achievement in youth ages 13 ½ – 23.

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Reps. Allred, Granger, Veasey Host Texas Ceremony, Announce Fort Worth ISD Initiative

Congressional Awardees pose outside of the Dallas Museum of Art with U.S. Representatives Colin Allred, Kay Granger, and Marc Veasey.

Dallas, TX — On Saturday, May 4, 2019, Members of the Texas congressional delegation hosted a statewide Congressional Award ceremony and introduced a new initiative between Congress’ award program for youth and the Fort Worth Independent School District.

The Dallas Museum of Art served as the host venue, welcoming awardees and their guests to a reception and award ceremony.

The event was made possible by the generosity of partners like American Airlines, G2 Secure Staff, Lockheed Martin, Magdaleno Leadership Institute, and Mr. Jorge Baldor.

In addition to honoring youth recipients for personal goal-setting and community service, the event served as a launch for The Congressional Award’s partnership with the Fort Worth Independent School District. The two organizations unveiled their plan to equip North Texas teens with tangible skills and resources necessary to bridge the gap between classroom success and career preparation.

Read more about the FWISD partnership here.

Left to Right: Julie Gostic of G2 Secure Staff, Congressional Award Chairman Paxton Baker, Congresswoman Kay Granger, Gold Medalist siblings Raheem and Rehman Memon, Congressman Colin Allred, Congressman Marc Veasey.

“Over four decades, The Congressional Award program has displayed an unparalleled ability to empower young adults to prepare for life outside the classroom,” said Congressman Marc Veasey. “Regardless of ability, circumstance, or socioeconomic status, The Congressional Award recognizes the effort, initiative, and achievement students make.

The Foundation also recognized Texas A&M University assistant professor Dr. Hector Rivera with the Education Champion Award for his contributions to teaching, public service, and guiding students to achieve excellence.

Illustrating the significance of community and partnership, Congressional Award Board Member and motivational speaker Mateo Magdaleno reminded awardees that it takes a village to achieve personal success. “Although we stand as one person, we must never forget we are representing thousands of people – entire communities, families that have supported you, and educators who have served as your mentors.”

Congressional Awardees and guests look on as the ceremony unfolds.

This year’s ceremony honored 89 recipients across the Lone Star State. Texas remains one of the most active in The Congressional Award’s portfolio with 3,304 awardees all-time, 80,100 service hours in 2018 (8% of national total), and 4,213 current participants (ranked 2nd in number of participants, only trailing California).

The ceremony program and list of Congressional Award recipients can be found here.

Free, high resolution photos are available to view and download here.

About
The Congressional Award is the United States Congress’ only charity and the highest honor bestowed upon a youth civilian through the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Established by Congress as a public-private partnership in 1979 under Public Law 96-114, the program recognizes initiative, service, and achievement in youth ages 13 ½ – 23.

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The Congressional Award, Fort Worth ISD to Provide ‘Pathway to Career’ for Texas Teens

Washington, DC (April 24, 2019)Fort Worth Independent School District and The Congressional Award Foundation strengthened their commitment to student leaders by launching a new effort to grow tomorrow’s leaders, today.


The two organizations announced today a regional collaboration, which will address the need to prepare tomorrow’s workforce with tangible skills and attributes necessary to excel in a classroom setting and beyond.

“Our purpose in education is not only to teach our students to excel in school but to build their character through service to others. We are honored to partner with The Congressional Award to help our students thrive,” said Dr. Kent Paredes Scribner, Fort Worth ISD Superintendent.

The partnership will initially take shape with the first official Congressional Award designated school, which has been determined to be the World Languages Institute (WLI) located in Fort Worth.

In working with national, state, and local supporters, this partnership will have a sharp focus on leveraging enrichment opportunities for students like internships, intergenerational interactions, job training, and exploration of the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

The new partners are optimistic that exposure to different industries and populations will ignite students’ passions and interests.

“Our program aims to foster leadership, public service, arts and culture, and healthy communities through youth empowerment,” said Erica Heyse, National Director for The Congressional Award Foundation. “Working with an educational leader like Fort Worth ISD will allow students to utilize The Congressional Award as a pathway to a career. It’s important for us to keep students motivated and connected to their community and to provide that extra incentive to graduate from high school and find job placement.”

Lending bi-partisan congressional support to the North Texas initiative are United States Representatives Kay Granger (TX-12) and Marc Veasey (TX-33).

“It is an honor to have the first Congressional Award school in Fort Worth. I am proud to be part of this bipartisan effort to help our children with the preparation and skills they need to be successful in life. As a former teacher, I know first-hand how important efforts like this can be in a student’s development,” said Congresswoman Kay Granger.

“Over four decades, The Congressional Award program has displayed an unparalleled ability to empower young adults to prepare for life outside the classroom,” said Fort Worth native Congressman Marc Veasey. “Regardless of ability, circumstance, or socioeconomic status, The Congressional Award recognizes the effort, initiative, and achievement students make. I’m excited and honored that the Fort Worth ISD will host the first Congressional Award School providing our students with access to fellowships, job training, and on-site future employment opportunities with Dallas-Fort Worth companies. This is key to exposing our students to resources they may never have had access to and to show them they have the tools and skills to achieve their dream job.”

Partnership Launch
The Congressional Award and Fort Worth ISD will host a kick-off event on Saturday, May 4, 2019 at the Dallas Museum of Art, which will include a reception with remarks from state and local officials and an award presentation for Congressional Award recipients in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.

The kick-off will also recognize partners who remain an integral part of the program’s success locally, including the presentation of The Congressional Award’s 2019 Education Champion Award to Dr. Hector Rivera, associate professor in the College of Education and Human Development at Texas A&M University.

“This award symbolizes the commitment of the Texas A&M University to diversity and community development through the support of its faculty,” said Dr. Rivera. “It also embodies the collaboration with multiple partners (districts, non-profits, and private sector) who have played a key role at improving the educational experience for all children in Texas and beyond. It is an honor to receive this award with an understanding that it takes many partners and collaborators, with a common vision, to achieve what we have achieved together.”

About The Congressional Award
The Congressional Award is the United States Congress’ only charity and the highest honor bestowed upon a youth civilian through the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Established by Congress as a public-private partnership in 1979 under Public Law 96-114, the program recognizes initiative, service, and achievement in youth ages 13 ½ – 23.

About Fort Worth Independent School District
With more than 86,000 students in 83 elementary schools, 29 middle schools and 6th grade centers, 18 high schools, and 16 other campuses, Fort Worth ISD enjoys a diverse student population and strong community partnerships. Under the leadership of the superintendent and the Board of Education, the District is undergoing a series of initiatives that will redesign, transform, and revitalize Fort Worth ISD Schools. Fort Worth ISD’s mission is “preparing ALL students for success in college, career, and community leadership.”

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Senator Wyden Presents The Congressional Award, Highlights Student Creativity in STEM

U.S. Senator Ron Wyden provides remarks to Congressional Awardees and guests.

Portland, OR — The inaugural Oregon Statewide Congressional Award Ceremony took place on Friday, April 12, 2019 at KinderCare Learning Centers Corporate Offices in Portland, Oregon.

United States Senator Ron Wyden recognized student leaders with Congressional Award Medals and offered a Q&A for constituents to address today’s most pressing issues and local opportunities.

“I am incredibly inspired by these amazing young Oregonians and the outstanding public service they have provided in our state,” Wyden said. “Each richly deserves their Congressional Awards and I thank The Congressional Award program for recognizing them and so many other young people around the country working hard to make their communities better.”

Senator Wyden presents Caleb Jacobson with the Bronze Medal.

KinderCare Education’s Chief Executive Officer, Tom Wyatt, and Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer and Congressional Award Board Member, Kelsey Troy, were on hand to support the youth honorees and reinforce their organization’s mission to provide quality early education.

Prior to the award ceremony, Senator Wyden traversed the city to participate in events that displayed the latest progress in student-led STEM activities. He served as a special guest at the Intel Northwest Science Expo hosted by Portland State University as well as a science experiment with children and their teachers at KinderCare in downtown Portland.

Bronze Medalist Quinn McElroy-Fuchs with Senator Wyden, The Congressional Award’s Erica Heyse, and KinderCare’s Tom Wyatt and Kelsey Troy.

Quinn McElroy-Fuchs earned not only The Congressional Award Silver Medal but was also presented with a STEM Star for creating Operation Tooth Fairy, a Girl Scout Gold Award project that brings dental care information and dental supplies to low-income families in the Greater Portland area.

“The Congressional Award has really taught me about the importance of goal setting. Even if a goal seems out of reach if you put the time and effort in to work at it piece by piece, you will be surprised by the impact you can make,” said Quinn.

By collaborating with partners like KinderCare, The Congressional Award STEM Stars Initiative aims to stoke passion for science and math and help make STEM more approachable. Priorities include educating students to be leaders and innovators in emerging and rapidly changing STEM fields as well as educating a scientifically literate populace.

Bronze Medalist Aayush Bhatt shares his Congressional Award story.

Oregon Congressional Award Recipients:
Martin Berger of Portland (Silver Medal)
Aayush Bhatt of Beaverton (Bronze Medal)
Akash Bindalof Beaverton (Bronze Medal)
Caleb Jacobson of Portland (Bronze Medal)
Rachel Luther of Hood River (Gold Medal)
Quinn McElroy-Fuchs of Portland (Silver Medal)
Patrick Townsend of Portland (Gold Medal)
Timothy Townsend of Portland (Silver Medal)

About
The Congressional Award is the United States Congress’ only charity and the highest honor bestowed upon a youth civilian through the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Established by Congress as a public-private partnership in 1979 under Public Law 96-114, the program recognizes initiative, service, and achievement in youth ages 13 ½ – 23.

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The Congressional Award Welcomes New Talent to National Board of Directors

Washington, DC (April 12, 2019) —The Congressional Award Foundation announces the election of five board members – Raymond Hall, Adrian Harpool, Molly Ryan, Kelsey Troy, and Ben Zandi – effective immediately.

“Each of our newest board members embody the spirit of The Congressional Award and bring valued expertise and energy to an already gifted team,” said Paxton K. Baker, Chairman of The Congressional Award National Board of Directors. “We are fortunate to have them by our side as we continue to strengthen communities and build the next generation of leaders through Congress’ award program for youth.”

Raymond Hall is Chief Human Resources Officer at Miller Management Corporation. He is responsible for the development of the people and culture for The Larry H. Miller Group of Companies.

Ray spent the first 11 years of his professional career with the U.S. Army Special Operations Command (Ft. Bragg, NC) before moving into the civilian sector.

His career accelerated over the next several years to the executive leadership level in large, multi-national companies. With more than 20 years of global experience in Human Resources and talent strategy, Mr. Hall brings a strong international outlook to his leadership roles.

Adrian Harpool serves as principal for Adrian Harpool Associates, a Baltimore-based strategic planning, marketing/branding, public relations, and communications consultancy.

He has led efforts to launch successful consumer brands, paved the way for large-scale real estate development projects, and helped to execute effective campaigns for causes and candidates that have literally transformed communities nationwide.

Adrian currently serves as president of the Madison Park Improvement Association and as chairman of the Midtown Community Benefits District in Baltimore.

Molly Ryan is the Head of Government Affairs and Advocacy at Otsuka America Pharmaceutical Inc.

She is responsible for the Federal, State, and Advocacy Government Relations department and leads the organization’s strategies to increase emphasis around disease awareness, treatment options, and access to therapies.

Molly is an advocate of grooming the next generation of female leaders. She sits on the board of Women in International Trade (WIIT) Trust as well as the California State Society.

Kelsey Troy is Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer at KinderCare Education, the nation’s leading private provider of high-quality early childhood education and school-age programs.

Under her leadership of 35,000 employees nationwide, KCE earned their second Gallup Great Workplace Award, one of only 37 companies in the world and the first and only early childhood education company to receive this distinction.

Prior to joining KCE, Kelsey served as Vice President of Human Resources at ANN Inc. in New York City.

Ben Zandi is President and Chief Executive Officer of Fraport USA, the North American division of Fraport Group, a global airport operations company.

Mr. Zandi takes an active role in reimaging airport travel with pioneering technologies, retail concepts, and new levels of customer experience.

Previously, Zandi was Executive Vice President of Operations for private equity firm Bunker Hill Capital, Principal and President of his own management firm, and Director of Operations for HMSHost.

Mr. Zandi has also served as a city councilman and vice mayor of Bristol, Tennessee and has been the president of multiple nonprofit organizations. He is certified by the Management and Strategy Institute as a Six Sigma Black Belt Professional.

Get to know the entire Board of Directors at www.congressionalaward.org/board.

About
The Congressional Award is the United States Congress’ only charity and the highest honor bestowed upon a youth civilian through the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Established by Congress as a public-private partnership in 1979 under Public Law 96-114, the program recognizes initiative, service, and achievement in youth ages 13 ½ – 23.

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Congress Honors Youth Leaders at Congressional Award Nevada Luncheon

Nevada’s Congressional Award recipients with U.S. Representatives Horsford, Lee, and Titus

Las Vegas, NV — On Saturday, March 9, 2019, the U.S. Congressional Award of Nevada Council hosted a recognition event for recipients of The Congressional Award, Congress’ highest honor for youth.

U.S. Representatives Dina Titus (NV-01), Susie Lee (NV-03), and Steven Horsford (NV-04) were on hand at local restaurant MINT Indian Bistro to provide encouraging remarks and present the coveted awards.

Congresswoman Dina Titus meets with Silver Medalist Sonakshi Dixit and her family

“It’s always exciting to see fresh, new leaders in our community. The requirements of this program are quite demanding, and I am inspired by the determination and enthusiasm demonstrated by this year’s awardees,” said Congressman Steven Horsford. “These students are not just recipients of an award but serve as role models for other young adults seeking to achieve their goals. I encourage others in Nevada to rise to the challenge and to participate in this transformative program.”

To earn the award, each young person set and achieved personally challenging goals in four program areas – Voluntary Public Service, Personal Development, Physical Fitness, and Expedition/Exploration.

Congresswoman Susie Lee presents the Bronze Medal to Peyton Barsel

“With young leaders like these, our future is bright. I was so inspired by these young Nevadans for the hours of service they’ve dedicated to our community,” said Congresswoman Susie Lee. “The hard work, dedication, and passion they have demonstrated through their actions in our community are an inspiration to the rest of us.”

The event showcased The Congressional Award’s focus on local collaboration and community engagement, welcoming Nevada business leaders and organizational partners like the Girl Scouts of Southern Nevada.

“It was truly a delight and honor to take part in the recognition of our exceptional young people across Nevada who took part in Nevada’s Congressional Award program,” said David Osman, President of the U.S. Congressional Award of Nevada Council. To hear and embrace their stories, to meet each of their families, accentuates and exemplifies the value that was a part of their personal development and the phenomenal public service provided within their respective communities.”

Congressman Steven Horsford presents the Gold Medal to Ritvik Janamsetty

A recipient of the Gold Medal, Ritvik Janamsetty volunteered with North South Foundation, a local non-profit that engages the local Indian community and secures scholarships for students traveling to India.

Ritvik gave a participant testimony on Saturday saying, “The Congressional Award has been one of the most pivotal things in my life to help me learn about myself and learn about my identity.”

Nevada Congressional Award Recipients:
Leyla Akgedik of Henderson (Silver Certificate)
Zeynep Akgedik of Henderson (Silver Medal)
Peyton Barsel of Las Vegas (Bronze Medal)
Jordon Cranford of Las Vegas (Bronze Medal)
Sonakshi Dixit of Las Vegas (Silver Medal)
Ritvik Janamsetty of Henderson (Gold Medal)
Kevin Leong of Henderson (Bronze Certificate)
Jason Lin of Las Vegas (Silver Medal)
Millenia Luna of Beatty (Bronze Medal)
Amaya Mendeguia of Carson City (Silver Certificate)
Radhika Shah of Henderson (Bronze Medal)

Near the close of the award presentation, Congressman Horsford issued a challenge to his young constituents. “You have an opportunity to forge ahead. Whether it’s in Congress, in business, in academia, whatever you do, this is all we ask: Come back, give back, and allow someone else to have an opportunity to follow behind you.”

About
The Congressional Award is the United States Congress’ only charity and the highest honor bestowed upon a youth civilian through the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Established by Congress as a public-private partnership in 1979 under Public Law 96-114, the program recognizes initiative, service, and achievement in youth ages 13 ½ – 23.

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Remembering ‘Dean’ of Congress John Dingell

February 8, 2019 (Washington, DC) – It is with heavy hearts that we learn of the passing of an American patriot, former U.S. Representative John Dingell.

Former Congressman John Dingell with wife and current Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (MI-12) and Gold Medalist John Orton. June 2015

John was the longest-serving member of Congress when he retired in 2015, having represented the people of Michigan for 59 years in office.

Rep. Dingell will forever be remembered as a political giant. We were all enamored with his gregarious personality, quick wit, intellect, and integrity.

As a nation, we remain indebted to John for a number of historic legislative feats and are grateful for his impact and leadership.

Congressman Dingell presents The Congressional Award to youth recipients at his district office. August 2013

It was our privilege to present Congressman John Dingell with The Congressional Award’s Wallop Howard Leadership Award in 2015. The award is presented to individuals in the public sector who “have displayed outstanding commitment to improving the lives of our nation’s young people and providing critical support in The Congressional Award Foundation’s efforts to make the program a national opportunity.”

Our condolences are with John’s wide reaching circle of supporters and particularly our friend and board member, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, during this time of grieving.

My STEM Story: Krishna Parikh

Krishna Parikh analyzed DNA sequences for her Congressional Award Personal Development goal.


While striving to achieve The Congressional Award Gold Medal, I tapped into my interest in genetic engineering, research, and science in general.

As part of the Authentic Science Research class at my high school, I was able to participate in hands-on laboratory work. We correlated with the Waksman Student Scholars Program at Rutgers, following their procedures and techniques.

The current project is to focus on the DNA sequences of the duckweed plant Landoltia punctata and to further analyze the genes they are associated with. Duckweed is of interest because of its use in bioremediation and its potential in being a biofuel. Through this project, it is hoped that the genes compare to those found in other species.

Each of the students, including me, participate by isolating and sequencing genes from a cDNA library. These sequences have not been determined yet, so if a student successfully analyzes one, it will be published in GenBank. By comparing these sequences to similar ones of other eukaryotes, we are able to understand the evolutionary relationship between the two. This was accomplished through multiple lab days and through multiple hours sequencing on the DNA Sequencing Analysis Program (DSAP).

To increase these newly acquired skills, I attended a meeting at GenSpace in Brooklyn, New York. The meeting pertained to Optogenetics, which is a genetic tool that makes cells responsive to light.

Through the various experimentation, the end goal is to perfect an optogenetic system in which different colors of light shine onto a petri dish and cause the bacteria to respond. This response can lead to bacteria photographs with high resolution and the control of gene expression and useful enzymes, such as Taq Polymerase, in 2D.

By spending time with professionals and learning in the lab, I perfected my pipetting skills and better understood proper lab technique. I also learned how to transfer bacteria, making it anti-resistant to antibiotics such as ampicillin and kanamycin.

The most unfamiliar concept I worked with, regarding the optogenetic systems, was the on-off ratios. This ratio determines the resolution of a bacterial photograph produced by comparing the parts of the petri dish where light was directed to the parts where it was not. It is measured in Miller Units and requires the usage of a spectrometer that tells us the wavelengths of the produced light.

As the youngest in this class, it is difficult to fully understand what is going on at all times. This allows me to challenge myself and forces me to think beyond my comfort zone. I still attend these classes monthly, and I cannot wait to see the developments made.

Learn more about The Congressional Award STEM Stars program.