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Where are they now: Inaugural class of Broadcom MASTERS

The Broadcom MASTERS from 2011, the first year of the education program for middle school students. PHOTO COURTESY OF SOCIETY FOR SCIENCE & THE PUBLIC.

The first Broadcom MASTERS competition was in 2011, five years ago. Students were in 6th to 8th grade for the first Broadcom MASTERS. Now some are juniors or ending their high school careers, while others are entering college.

The Society for Science & the Public checked in with a few alumni of the first Broadcom MASTERS to see where they are now. For many of these alumni, their successes all started with Broadcom MASTERS.

Meagan stands with her Broadcom MASTERS 2011 project.
Meagan stands with her Broadcom MASTERS 2011 project.

Meagan Bethel attends the University of Arizona. Since becoming a Broadcom MASTER, she has received $93,000 worth of scholarships and prizes.

Winning a trip to Broadcom MASTERS was the first time I truly felt valued for doing what I was passionate about — taking care of the other species who share our planet,” Meagan said. “I felt validated. Even though I was young, I knew I could make a difference in this world, and getting to Broadcom told me I already was! Now, as I enter college, I am more committed than ever to continue my quest to make a difference for our planet’s survival. And it all started with Broadcom.”

Meagan will never forget the formal dinner at Broadcom MASTERS 2011, where she sat at a table with a Nobel Laureate, the President of Broadcom and Joe Palca. “At first I was scared to open my mouth,” she said. “But within minutes we were laughing our heads off. When intelligence takes the path of humor, you can do nothing but relax and enjoy the ride.”

Thank you for allowing her to become who she really was,” Meagan’s parents said. “Because you caught her at a young age, you encouraged her to be brave, speak out against injustice to the other species who share this planet, and to become a better version of humankind everywhere. As her parents, but also as a fellow citizen on this planet, I cannot thank you enough for this wonderful program. It was life changing for her.”

Andrew shows his project 'Algae the Carbon Sponge: Optimum Temperature for Chlorella Photosynthesis' at Broadcom MASTERS 2011.
Andrew shows his project ‘Algae the Carbon Sponge: Optimum Temperature for Chlorella Photosynthesis’ at Broadcom MASTERS 2011.

Andrew Blonsky attends St. Edward High School. He wants to find a career in biomedical engineering.

Andrew currently volunteers with a team at Case Western University who work on a robotic worm which moves with peristaltic motion.

Andrew found Broadcom MASTERS’ group work memorable since it was unlike any other science fair he’s attended.

Valerie at Broadcom MASTERS 2011.
Valerie at Broadcom MASTERS 2011.

Valerie Ding attends Stanford University and intends to major in computer science. She was also an Intel STS 2015 finalist and competed in Intel ISEF for four years.

This summer, Valerie interned at Intel and traveled to Italy as part of the Intel ISEF/Fondazione Bruno Kessler (FBK) program and developed a smartphone app on a team. In 2012, she traveled to CERN as an Intel ISEF award winner.

Participating in Broadcom MASTERS and Intel ISEF and visiting CERN and Italy encouraged Valerie to continue her journey in STEM “because of the fantastic community of genuinely curious and articulate fellow young investigators,” she said.

“The Society really changed my life,” she said. “I can’t thank you guys enough. Special thanks to Paula Golden, Wendy Hawkins and Maya Ajmera for guidance and support.”

Maria won the Individual Prize at the 2015 Siemens Competition in December. Photo courtesy of Maria Grimmett.
Maria won the Individual Prize at the 2015 Siemens Competition in December. Photo courtesy of Maria Grimmett.

Maria Grimmett is a senior in high school at Oxbridge Academy in West Palm Beach, Florida. She hopes to attend a college on the east coast that has strong science and engineering programs. STEM is the future of this country, she said.

Maria won the Individual Prize and a $100,000 scholarship at the National Finals of the Siemens Competition in December.

She was 12 when she first attended Broadcom MASTERS. “It’s where I learned that collaboration is the most important ingredient when presented with difficult science and engineering problems,” she said. 

“Recognition by Broadcom MASTERS opened a lot of doors for me and helped me in many other opportunities. Presenting my research at the National Geographic Society was amazing and helped me to become more comfortable discussing my work with professional scientists. Broadcom MASTERS was my first experience with top level science programs and motivated me to continue my research over the years. It showed me what could be achieved by pursuing scientific research and drove me to present my research 14 times at professional conferences, publish my research and become a three-time Intel ISEF finalist.” Broadcom MASTERS also awarded Maria a two-week Science and Literature program at Cambridge University in March 2015. 

In 2011, Maria’s 9-year-old brother Glenn came with her to Washington, D.C. for Broadcom MASTERS. He met the Society’s then-president Elizabeth Marincola at the competition. Glenn told her he wanted to become a Broadcom MASTER too, and she encouraged him to apply when he was old enough. “Glenn never forgot the experience, worked hard on science projects at school, and recently he became a Broadcom MASTERS 2015 finalist,” Maria said.

Robert shares his project
Robert shares his project “Coral Tumors, Parrotfish Predation and Bacteria.”

Robert Heckman attends the United States Air Force Academy and plans to major in biology.

Robert won the Technology Award in the 2011 Broadcom MASTERS.

“Receiving the technology award was an important achievement in my life,” Robert said. “It proved to me that if I worked hard I could accomplish my goals.”

Since Broadcom MASTERS 2011, Robert has received many other awards in STEM as well as athletics.

Ben presents his research at Broadcom MASTERS 2011.
Ben presents his research at Broadcom MASTERS 2011.

Ben Hylak attends the Worcester Polytechnic Institute and is double majoring in robotics engineering and computer science. 

He chose to attend WPI for its project-based learning and it is one of three schools that offer a robotics major.

“It’s really just a different type of college, and I’m really enjoying the experience! I already got a research internship in the robotics lab,” he said.

Ben was the second place winner in the 2011 Broadcom MASTERS.

“I’m proud to say I’m an alumni!” Ben said. “I can definitively say that who I am today is largely the result of Broadcom MASTERS. Being exposed to such high-achieving peers — who were also fun — was just awesome.”

Katherine presents her research at Broadcom MASTERS 2011.
Katherine presents her research at Broadcom MASTERS 2011.

Katherine Landoni attends Oregon State University and studies in the Honors College and the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences. She is working toward a Ph.D. in one of these STEM areas. 

Katherine won the Engineering Award in the 2011 Broadcom MASTERS.

“Living in an isolated, rural community, opportunities were limited,” Katherine said. “In middle school, I struggled to find peers with similar ideals as myself.”

At Broadcom MASTERS, Katherine had the opportunity to surround herself with diverse people, equally interested in nurturing a passion for all things science, technology, engineering and math, she said. “The experience cultivated my sense of independence, increased my network of peers and professionals engaged in the STEM fields and expanded my view of STEM careers by helping link my classroom STEM education to a potential career path,” Katherine said.

Nikhil presents his research in 2011.
Nikhil presents his research in 2011.

Nikhil Patel is a junior at Oviedo High School. He takes classes at the University of Central Florida, and plans to be fully enrolled there for his senior year of high school. Nikhil wants to remain on the forefront of research that uses computer innovation to solve medical conditions, including his current research on the detection of Alzheimer’s disease 20 years earlier than currently detected.

He recently won a fourth place award in Intel ISEF 2015 and published a paper in theJournal for the International Test and Evaluation Association.

Broadcom MASTERS was a transformational experience for Nikhil. The competition helped him learn to “think like a scientist,” he said. “The spark of passion for science that I was born with, the spark that was stoked by the iron that is Broadcom MASTERS, has now grown into a bonfire. Scientific study permeates my life. Broadcom MASTERS made me who I am today.”

Emily presents her research at Broadcom MASTERS 2011.
Emily presents her research at Broadcom MASTERS 2011.

Emily Sarkisian is a freshman biology major at the University of Rhode Island. She is a member of Colleges Against Cancer and the running club. Emily enjoyed the team competitions from Broadcom MASTERS 2011.

“I love science and I always have, and my experience in the Broadcom MASTERS competition definitely proved to me that I have chosen the right career path,” Emily said. “This competition had such a positive impact on my life and I met so many amazing people. I am so lucky to have been able to be a part of the first ever Broadcom MASTERS in 2011.”

Find out who the winners of the 2015 Broadcom MASTERS competition are!

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