National Winner of “Connect to Stem Award”

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Volunteering is one of the most rewarding activities, in my opinion. My family volunteers with the Salvation Army every year around the holidays and simply seeing a child’s face light up when they are handed a toy makes my day. Volunteering may sound like a chore, but once you find the thing you love, whether it be packing boxes with Feed My Starving Children, reading to children in the library, or handing out toys to children in December, it doesn’t seem so bad. Elaina Ashton (pictured left), a current 10th grader, recently applied for the “Connect2STEM Award”, which is an award sponsored by Cox that encompasses multiple aspects, such as volunteering, science, and leadership. This prestigious award has only one winner, and Elaina earned her spot as the national recipient of the Connect to STEM Award.

Before she could enter to win this award, Elaina went through multiple steps to qualify. One of the most important parts was the requirement that a recipient had to be in the Chief Science Officers Program (CSO) and a CSO Officer. This program encompasses science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM); my previous article, titled “STEM at ACP”, explains more about all aspects of this program. Along with being a member of the CSO Program, all recipients had to give back to their community. Elaina went beyond this requirement, for she dedicated her time to multiple parts of the community and teaches others her extensive knowledge on robotics and science. The final requirement consists of a teacher recommendation. All recipients must be nominated by someone other than themselves.

Through her hard work and sleepless nights, Elaina earned the title as the only winner of the Connect to STEM Award in 2018. Along with this prestigious title, Elaina was awarded prize money, which she explained she will be contributing to her nonprofit organization, Education Empowers, as well as other nonprofits, such as Dignity Kids. Along with this extraordinary award, Elaina will be featured in a video highlighting her contributions, along with a “congratulatory spot” that will run across all Cox Channels. Elaina’s big heart and selfless attitude drove her to give her all to this award, and she was ecstatic with the outcome. In an interview, Elaina stated how she was both shocked and overwhelmed with happiness when she found out she won. She continued by saying she was happy to give back to the community and that her sleepless nights were worth it.

For more information regarding Elaina and her scientific career, view my previous article, “STEM at ACP”

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