Connections student invited to STEM congress

A Funny River Connections home-school student will travel to Massachusetts this summer as an Alaska delegate to the Congress of Future Science and Technology Leaders.

Cierra Brassfield-Thompson was nominated by Dr. John C. Mather, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics and Science Director of the National Academy of Future Scientists and Technologists in Lowell, Massachusetts.

As a delegate, Cierra will “represent Alaska based on her academic achievement, leadership potential and passion for science and technology,” according to a release from the National Academy of Future Scientists and Technology.

During the three-day congress, students from across the country will be joined by leaders in the STEM fields to discuss leading scientific research, according to the release.

Cierra is homeschooled through the Connections Homeschool Program by her mother, Lois Brassfield. The 16-year-old is scheduled to graduate next year, two years ahead of schedule.

“She has a big hunger for learning,” Brassfield said. “I can’t keep keep enough information in the house.”

Cierra will be presented with a science and technology award for her good grades and her interest in science, particularly her interest in working in the forensic science field. Following her graduation, she said she hopes to study to become a crime scene investigator.

“They go to the crime scenes, gather the information and come back and analyze it,” Brassfield-Thompson said. “I like how even the smallest piece of trace evidence can solve a crime.”

Cierra said she is excited for the experience and the honor of accepting the award and hopes to push other kids to get involved in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathemetics.

“I actually learned something the other day — in the STEM programs, only 6.7 percent of women actually graduate and stick with that field,” Cierra said. “But if you want to do something, just go ahead and do it. Just because the odds are against you, don’t think that you’re not going to succeed. Just go ahead and do it.”

In addition to her passion for science, Cierra is a second-degree black belt in Tang Soo Do and has been playing the flute for four years.

“We’ve always encouraged her to try everything,” Brassfield said. “If you like it, go for it and see from there.”

The Congress of Future Science and Technology is organized by the National Academy of Future Scientists and Technologists, an organization “founded on the belief that science, technology, engineering and mathematics education plays a critical role in enabling the United States to remain the economic and technological leader.”

Reach Kat Sorensen at kat.sorensen@peninsulaclarion.com.

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