Angela Casarez is in rare company. Literally.
The Millsap High School senior is one of only two students in the state of Texas to receive a scholarship to attend the National Youth Science Camp. The elite camp accepts only a couple of students from each state and the District of Columbia to attend June 27-July 21 at Camp Pocahontas in Thornwood, West Virginia, home since the program began in 1963.
"I can’t wait to spend my summer with some of the nation's most intellectual and passionate students who are just as crazy about science as I am," Casarez said with excitement. "I also look forward to representing Texas, the DFW area, and especially my hometown in new ways. I hope that by receiving such an honor I can be a role model to other students behind my generation."
The NYSCamp is a residential science education program for young science, technology, engineering and math enthusiasts the summer after they graduate from high school. Students are challenged academically in lectures and hands-on studies, and have voluntary opportunities to participate in an outdoor adventure program, and as an extra bonus can make new friendships that often last a lifetime.
"I’ll be having a busy, but extremely fun summer," Casarez said.
Casarez and Christopher Thang of the Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science in Denton were chosen from 11 who were considered in Texas for the prestigious camp. The process just to apply was rigorous, Casarez said.
Along with writing an essay, submitting a resume, transcript evaluation and recommendations, delegates must have documented superior academic proficiency, including recognition in mathematics or the sciences; documented leadership abilities and social maturity through involvement in school or community activities; documented skills and achievements outside the realm of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and outside the realm of academia; must demonstrate a curiosity and an eagerness to explore many and varied topic; and intend to pursue higher education and a career in a science, technology, engineering, or mathematics related field.
Casarez has been accepted to five Ivy League schools and many others, including Stanford. She plans to major in neuroscience as an undergraduate and later pursue a career as a physician specializing in emergency medicine.
"I’ve always been inspired by my father’s work as a firefighter for the city of Fort Worth," she said. "I too, want to help people and even save lives on what could be the scariest day of their life."
She has been a volunteer at Medical City Weatherford for three years. One of her unique STEM achievements includes being named the Siemens Fellow of the Carnegie Mellon Summer Academy of Math and Science, the only student out of 120 of the nation’s brightest STEM students to be awarded the title, she said.
"We modeled neurological diseases using genetically mutated model organisms. I specialized in the study of ALS," she said.
She's also a dedicated artist who focuses on science-related subject matter and has won multiple awards both locally and nationally for her pieces. A recent study by the U.S. Department of Commerce showed that women held only 24 percent of STEM jobs. However, women with STEM jobs earned 35 percent more than comparable women in non-STEM jobs — even higher than the 30 percent STEM premium for men.
"Females are still pursuing STEM careers at a much lower rate than males. Often, it is because females THINK they aren’t as capable in the maths and sciences, but we are working to change those attitudes," said Millsap Superintendent Deann Lee. "MISD has a STEM lab at the elementary and we encourage all students to pursue their dreams without regard to society’s status quo.
"Ms. Casarez is one of the most outstanding individuals I have had the privilege to become acquainted with in my 30 years in education. I first met her as a freshman and I quickly asked if she was going to be president of the United States one day. Her calling is medicine, but Ms. Casarez can achieve anything she seeks to pursue — including president."