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High school juniors honored at annual Dr. Judith Resnik Awards ceremony

Twelve Harford County High School Juniors were honored by the Harford County, MD branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) for their academic achievements in science and mathematics at the annual Dr. Judith Resnik Awards Luncheon held on Saturday, April 5 at Harford Community College. The young women were cited for their scholastic excellence overall, as evidenced by their high GPAs, and for their mastery of mathematics and science in particular. They were also recognized as leaders at their schools and cited for their engagement in many extracurricular and volunteer activities. The honorees were joined by their family members, and teachers and administrators from their respective schools along with community leaders.
 
Anne Heidenreich, local AAUW chair of the event, welcomed the audience of students, parents, teachers, friends, supporters and local government officials. She gave a brief history of the awards luncheon, which originated 28 years ago when the local AAUW  branch set about to honor Dr. Judith Resnik--America’s second woman in space--when she was killed in the Challenger explosion in 1986. Resnik was born on April 5, 1949 and she would have been 65 years old on this year’s luncheon’s date. She was an AAUW member and she also received educational grants from AAUW. She became America’s second woman astronaut (Sally Ride was the first) when she was chosen out of 1,000 applicants (only six of whom were women), to be selected to be an astronaut. 
 
As in years past, this year’s honorees are selected by their schools, who considered their grades in science and mathematics in particular and their overall grades as well, plus their undertaking of advanced placement courses, involvement in extracurricular activities, and  participation in community projects.  Heidenreich commended all of the students on their outstanding accomplishments and urged them, despite their heavy load of coursework and commitments, to “take time to smell the roses” as well.
 
Each honoree received certificates from: the Maryland General Assembly, Harford County House Delegation, Honorable Wayne Norman, Honorable Glen Glass,  Harford County Executive, David Craig,  Harford County Council, Billy Boniface, President,  Harford County Public Schools,  Barbara Canavan, Superintendent, the Senate of Maryland, Legislative District 35, Honorable Barry Glassman and the American Association of University Women, Harford County, MD.
 
The honorees are:
Jennifer Kwon, Aberdeen High School. Jennifer and her family emigrated from South Korea to the U.S. when she was in the 7th grade. Despite the difference in cultures she persevered and became a top student. She is passionate about education, science, helping others and being involved in community projects. Currently she is establishing a Key Club at her high school. Jennifer wants a career in the medical field—probably something with children or do biomedical engineering.
Kacie Bawiec, Aberdeen Math and Science Academy. At the age of 15 she already was an accomplished author. By then she had her book, Silver Dagger, a young-adult fiction novel, successfully published. She loves calculus, robotics, cryptology, English, and chemistry. She would like to be a computer scientist some day. She plays the viola and volunteers at her church’s Children’s Music Ministry. She also looks forward to publishing another novel.
Damali Egyen-Davis, Bel Air High School. She is a bio-medical student. In the 6th grade Damali’s passion for math and science was sparked at a Sally Ride Festival, during which she experienced math and science related activities hosted by professional women. This event and her parents were her inspiration to pursue a bio-medical program.  Her dream career is to be a bio-medical engineer and to this end she is currently taking four AP courses in Medical Intervention, which explores gene therapy.
Sidney Nelson, C. Milton Wright High School. She considers music and math her two biggest passions. She plays flute for her high school band (among other local bands). And her love of numbers leads her to think about becoming an actuarial, relating to the statistical calculation of risk or life expectancy for insurance purposes. She, along with her other band members, will be going to Disneyland to participate in the Light Parade.
Nimra Nadeem, Edgewood High School. She is planning a career as a pediatrician. She is very proud of her math accomplishments. She loves to spend time with her family and she is looking forward to traveling around Europe and recording her stories, poems and thoughts in journals that she has kept since elementary school.  She wants to attend Johns Hopkins University or the University of Maryland to fulfill her career dreams so families can heal and grow together.
Rebecca Rose Green, Fallston High School. Rebecca’s success in math and science is likely related to the fact that her dad is a civilian chemist. Her interest was fostered by her experience in the science fairs sponsored by local Japanese while she and her family lived in Okinawa.  She also credits the encouragement of her teachers at Fallston High School. She hopes to promote an interest in science and math as she pursues a career in materials engineering.
Leah Leonard, Harford Technical High School. Leah is in the Food Preparation and Management Program. Leah could not attend the luncheon because she was one of the HTHS students, teachers, and administrators participating in “Champions at Work,” the SkillsUSA Maryland Annual State Leadership and Skills Championship that weekend. She wants to be a culinaryogolist—one who blends the science of food with the culinary artistry of food.
Courtney Grace Knight, Havre de Grace High School. Courtney is passionate about science, zoology, and the environment. Marine biology has held a particular fascination for her, which she plans to pursue. Courtney has wisely surmised that since we do not readily see the pollution in the ocean, we are not taking the necessary steps to protect it. She knows the necessity of all of us having to make changes in our life styles to protect the environment and making it a better place to live.
Shelby Johnson, Joppatowne High School. Shelby has always been fascinated by space and space exploration and wants to be an aerospace engineer after getting her degree from her college of choice: Purdue University. Shelby has always excelled in math and science and feels that she has been mentored by each math and science teacher she has had throughout her education thus far.
Savannah Shaul, North Harford High School. Savannah is interested in advanced mathematics and chemistry, drama, basketball and tennis. Savannah hopes to attend Caltech and study chemical engineering so that one day she can run her own lab with researching and creating pharmaceuticals for the greater good. One of the most inspiring people in her life is her father, who unfortunately could not be there.
Kathryn (Katie) Kirkwood, Patterson Mill High. She is interested in many things. Besides science and math she enjoys English; she is also involved in Tai Kwon Do and plays the piano and sings. Katie hopes to go to the Naval Academy in Annapolis, where her father teaches. Her parents are her mentors and she also appreciates the many others who have helped and mentored her.
Annalee Gabler, The John Carroll High School. Annalee’s major interests are biology, research and forensic medicine. She enjoys reading about these topics as well as learning new things. She is active in her church, sings in the youth band, and is a peer counselor. Her greatest mentor is her grandfather, who provided encouragement and support from an early age, including giving Annalee subscriptions to science magazines. She wants to earn a doctorate in forensic medicine.
 
Bernadette Low, AAUW Harford County, MD branch president, gave an overview of the AAUW organization, which was founded in 1881 and is committed to providing greater educational opportunities to women. She noted that the branch has donated nearly $4,000 to the GED program at Harford Community College this year. The larger than usual sum donated this year also honored the late Toni Bram who initiated this scholarship.
 
The luncheon’s keynote address was given by Col. Sandra Alvey, a career Army officer. Col. Alvey has strong ties to Maryland and Harford County and maintains a home in Forest Hill. She is a graduate of C. Milton Wright High School and Western MD College (now McDaniel College). Col. Alvey has received a Professional Achievement Alumna award from McDaniel College. A perfect model of potential achievement of women in the sciences, she described for students the values of the Army--values she has used to guide her successful career and life. She holds two M.S. degrees and is both a soldier (in the Army Reserve) and a scientist who works as a civilian analyst.  With both positions she utilizes her specialized knowledge of diseases born and bred by insects. 
 
Col. Alvey stated that she rose through the ranks in the Medical Corps. She is the only woman to earn the Armed Forces Best Management Award. She noted that the scientific and mathematical communities in the Army need committed people and urged the honorees to think about careers there. Col. Alvey discussed the Army Values and urged the honorees to consider them as they pursue a balance between their careers, personal life, and leadership roles—a balance that she recognizes can be difficult at times.  She explained the Standards of Conduct: Leadership, Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage and how everyone can apply them. Col. Alvey urged every awardee to excel, reach for her goals, lead by example, and inspire by example. She has encountered setbacks, but they have not caused her to change her values. She wants the honorees to “never box yourself in to a certain level; diversify your technical knowledge and leadership. Move beyond your comfort zone. We need women leaders.” In ending, Col. Alvey noted the potential of all the honorees and said she is looking forward to reading about their future achievements. She presented each awardee with a Department of Defense Challenge Coin, which has the DOD logo on its front and the Tri-Service representation on the back.
 
AAUW advances equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy and research. Members of AAUW are graduates holding an associate, baccalaureate, or higher degree, or their equivalent, from a qualified post-secondary educational institution.