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.

The Congressional Award Names New Members to National Board of Directors

Washington, DC (January 29, 2019) —The Congressional Award Foundation announces the election of four board members – Wei-Li Chong, Larry Duncan, Missy Foxman, and Ray Kerins – effective immediately.

“We are thrilled to welcome Larry, Missy, Ray, and Wei-Li to our leadership team and especially value the industry experience each member brings,” said Paxton K. Baker, Chairman of The Congressional Award National Board of Directors. “They join The Congressional Award at an exciting time as we continue to propel our mission forward and build corporate partnerships that help to enrich the lives of our nation’s youth.”

Wei-Li Chong serves as President of KinderCare Education at Work, a leading provider of customized childcare and work-life solutions for companies across the United States.

Prior to KinderCare, Wei-Li held multiple leadership positions with companies in the retail industry. He is considered an expert in multi-unit management and building high performing engaged teams. He is known as a champion for children, young adults, and the changes organizations need to make to better embrace the demands of today’s workforce. He is sought after as a speaker and subject matter expert in leadership principles, engagement, and work-life integration.

Larry Duncan is Vice President for Government Affairs at Lockheed Martin, where he serves as a senior liaison to federal and state government officials.

Before Lockheed Martin, Mr. Duncan was a corporate lawyer and lobbyist. He provided legislative and regulatory counsel to media and entertainment companies, telecom and satellite carriers, professional sports leagues, trade associations, and a variety of technology clients.

Mr. Duncan is actively involved in the Washington, D.C. area community, including service on the Board of Directors for the USO-Metropolitan Washington; Running Start, a non-profit organization that inspires women to run for political office; and ThanksUSA, a non-profit organization that provides scholarships for the spouses and children of military personnel.

Melissa (Missy) Cortese Foxman is Director of Federal Government Relations at the Entertainment Software Association. She is the former Executive Director of the Women’s High-Tech Coalition (WHTC), a non-profit serving women working on tech policy in the public and private sectors.

Her public sector background includes serving U.S. Sen. Connie Mack (R-FL) as Deputy Chief of Staff at the Senate Republican Conference and professional staff member of the Joint Economic Committee. She also served as a political appointee at the U.S. Small Business Administration under President George H.W. Bush.

Ray Kerins is Senior Vice President and Head of Communications, Government Relations & Policy for Bayer U.S.

Previously, Ray was Vice President of external affairs & worldwide communications for Pfizer and Executive Director of public affairs for Merck & Co.

Ray is the recipient of many company and industry awards, including being named “2017 Outstanding In-House Professional Award” by PRWeek Magazine.

Kerins is a board member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and vice chairman of the Chamber’s Global Innovation Policy Center.

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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Statement on the Passing of Senator Harris Wofford

January 23, 2019 (Washington, DC) – The Congressional Award Foundation joins the nation in mourning the loss of former U.S. Senator Harris Wofford of Pennsylvania.

On February 19, 2008, Senator Wofford served as the Keynote Speaker for The Congressional Award Pennsylvania Statewide Ceremony hosted at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, PA.

In addition to being a devoted civil rights activist and adviser to President John F. Kennedy, Senator Wofford was known for reinvigorating America’s passion for service. He steered the National and Community Service Act of 1993, which created AmeriCorps, the Senior Corps, and Learn and Serve America, all federally funded programs that have engaged hundreds of thousands of volunteers across the nation.

As a champion of service, Senator Wofford was generous enough to support Congress’ award for youth long after his tenure in the Senate.

We give our condolences to Mr. Wofford’s family and friends. He left an indelible impression on our nation and his legacy will serve as an example for generations to come.

My STEM Story: Juan Aleman

2019 Gold Medalist Juan Aleman uses STEM skills to educate others and grow personally


While working towards my Congressional Award Gold Medal, I dedicated 385 hours as the head programmer, lead robot driver, and co-captain of the 4-H robotics team G-FORCE. My team works out of Accident, MD, but we also participate in numerous Community Outreach events globally.

SuGO, a game with sumo wrestling robots, is one of the most popular STEM activities and the reason I became interested in STEM. Utilizing SuGO, virtual reality, rockets, WeDO, and many other STEM activities, I volunteered at the West Virginia Children’s Hospital, Maryland State Fair, Mineral State Stem Festival, and 4-H Volunteer Forum.

I have had the opportunity to be the referee and robot and field inspector at FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) Qualifiers and State Championships in three different states. All of these activities are free STEM activities available to the public.

  

The most memorable STEM events were the military activities, the largest of which was the Air Force STEM initiative. Team G-FORCE was given a budget of $250,000 to buy, package, and ship STEM products to over 52 Air Force bases. We live streamed webinars taught by the team members on how to use the STEM kits. The team also hosted two one-week residential Navy STEM camps where forty 4-Hers from bases abroad (Japan, Bahrain, and Italy) and domestic (Georgia) were taught lessons on hardware and software by me and my fellow mentors.

I traveled to Washington, D.C. for the USA Science & Engineering Festival where I volunteered at three booths: FIRST, 4-H, and Maker Space. While there, I demonstrated the robotics competition, lead the Junk Drawer Robotics, and ran the software that cut vinyl stickers, adding additional creativity to the patrons’ work.

Following this year’s festival, I joined my 4-H robotics coach in a special project where we learned a new programming language together. We were tasked by the Oakland Lions Club to create a belt sander race for their jubilee that they could use for years.

Last year my FIRST Tech Challenge team had a very intuitive program for our robot. It was able to make decisions about which claw to open and close and how high to raise its arm, based on simple choices made by me and my co-pilot. This year we plan to make the robot even smarter. As head programmer, I have already moved on from using pre-programmed vision software, to creating a custom image processing pipeline.

Learn more about The Congressional Award STEM Stars program.

2019 Gold Medal Submission Deadline

In order to be eligible for the 2019 Gold Medal Ceremony in June 2019 (exact date TBA), participants must submit their Gold Medal Record Book to the national office no later than February 1, 2019.

This is a postmark, email, and fax deadline. Submissions made after February 1st will be grouped with the 2020 Gold Medal class.

If you have submitted a Gold Medal Record Book and it is currently “pending,” please submit your revision responses no later than March 15, 2019.

My STEM Story: Othoniel Batista Sinclair

Othoniel of Silver Spring, Maryland applies his love for STEM towards his Congressional Award goals.


I began participating in STEM three years ago with an Air Force camp at Joint Base Andrews. There they taught us how to create music beats, build 3D images, and write programs.

Then I joined Maryland Metro Warriors, a STEM oriented program affiliated to the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE). Through this program I participated in scrimmages and several robotics competitions at the state and national level. Our High School team competed  at the NSBE National Convention in Pittsburgh last year placed 5th.

      

I am currently the Vice-President of the NSBE Junior Chapter “The Dynamic Mathematical Visionaries,” out of Howard University. Here I am involved with Vex Robotics team. Our chapter participated in the 2018 Fall Regional Conference (FRC) and was able to compete with the Howard University Math Competition Team!

My passion is building robots and I look forward to attending an engineering university where I can build robots that can help us improve our environment and save our planet. I have learned to work as a team with others and join ideas to come up with great projects. Teamwork and respect has been critical to the success of our team.

Learn more about The Congressional Award STEM Stars program.

Remembering the life of former Rep. Ed Pastor

November 28, 2018 (Washington, DC) – The Congressional Award Foundation mourns the loss of former U.S. Representative Ed Pastor and expresses our condolences to family and friends.

Congressman Pastor was the first Hispanic member of Congress elected from Arizona and served for more than two decades in the House of Representatives.

In 2006, The Congressional Award presented Pastor with the Wallop-Howard Leadership Award. The honor recognized his outstanding commitment to improving the lives of our nation’s youth and providing critical support to the Foundation’s outreach.

Lauded as a true public servant and a consummate fighter for civil rights, Pastor’s legacy will have a lasting impact.

Reps. Clarke, Maloney Honor New York Youth with Congressional Award

Peal Dip of Elmhurst, NY receives his Bronze Medal from Representatives Clarke and Maloney.

New York, NY — On October 21, 2018, U.S. Representatives Yvette Clarke (NY-09) and Carolyn Maloney (NY-12) hosted The Congressional Award’s 2018 New York Statewide Ceremony at New York Law School in the Tribeca neighborhood of Lower Manhattan, New York City.

The ceremony recognized 297 youth across the state for their personal goal-setting and acts of citizenship. Just shy of 50 recipients were able to attend the event.

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

This year’s group contributed 37,055 volunteer hours to their communities, an average of 125 hours per participant.

“I was delighted to be able to salute all the wonderful young people who received The Congressional Award at the New York ceremony,” said Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney.

It’s a terrific program in which everyone benefits – the participants, who devote as much as two years of their time to projects that enable them to develop new skills, new interests, new insights, and new experiences as they go through the program; local organizations and people in need, who benefit from thousands of hours of public service volunteered by talented and ambitious young people; and communities, which benefit from having talented young people who have succeeded in challenging themselves to excel and who are becoming the leaders of the future,” added Maloney.

Issuing inspiring words of encouragement to the recipients Congresswoman Yvette Clarke stated, “Remember this award is only the beginning of your journey. Make service your lifestyle!”

New York’s Congressional Award recipients with Representatives Clarke, Maloney, and special guests.

Pamela Wilks, Assistant Principal of Manhattan Hunter Science High School, was presented with the Outstanding Advisor award for her efforts in mentoring students through the program.

Guests of honor included three members of The Congressional Award’s National Board of Directors – Anthony Crowell, Dean and President of New York Law School, Dr. Brian Johnson, and Mitch Draizin – as well as NYC Council Member Ritchie Torres.

Spectrum News NY1 political reporter Grace Rauh volunteered her talents as the master of ceremonies.

Event photos, ceremony program, and list of award recipients (including hometowns) are available to view and download.

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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Representatives Clarke, Maloney to Hold Congressional Award Ceremony in NYC

MEDIA ADVISORY
Contact: Derek Doyle | doyle@congressionalaward.org
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What
The Congressional Award New York Statewide Ceremony will recognize 297 Congressional Award recipients across the Empire State for their goal-setting achievements in voluntary public service, personal development, physical fitness, and expedition/exploration.

When
Sunday, October 21, 2018
2:00 p.m. ET

Where
New York Law School
Auditorium
185 West Broadway
New York, NY 10013

Who
U.S. Representatives Yvette Clarke (NY-09) and Carolyn Maloney (NY-12) will present the awards on behalf of Congress.

Spectrum News NY1 political reporter Grace Rauh will serve as the master of ceremonies.

Anthony Crowell, Dean and President of New York Law School and member of The Congressional Award Foundation’s Board of Directors, will provide welcoming remarks.

The event will also usher in local leadership, welcoming NYC Council Member Ritchie Torres and Congressional Award Board Member Mitch Draizin.

Pamela Wilks, Assistant Principal of Manhattan Hunter Science High School, will be honored with the Outstanding Advisor award for her efforts in shepherding and mentoring students through the program.

Media Information
Download a list of this year’s 297 awardees (including hometowns).
Download an advance copy of the ceremony program.


The Congressional Award is the U.S. Congress’ only charity and the highest honor bestowed upon a young person through the Senate and House. 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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