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California Department of Education
News Release
California Department of Education
News Release
Release: #21-54
August 3, 2021
Contact: Communications
E-mail: communications@cde.ca.gov
Phone: 916-319-0818

State Superintendent Tony Thurmond Announces 2021 National Youth Science Camp Delegates

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond named four outstanding students as California’s delegates at the 2021 National Youth Science Camp (NYSCamp).

Angelina Lee, Cerritos High School in Cerritos (Los Angeles County); Jessica Qu, Evergreen Valley High School in San Jose (Santa Clara County); Michael Zhao, Lynbrook High School in San Jose (Santa Clara County); and Vivian Hir, Quarry Lane School in Danville (Alameda County), were selected for their high achievement and proficiency in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

“STEM education—or STEAM education, which aligns the arts with STEM learning—is an incredibly important priority of mine. Not only is a STEAM education a great equalizer for our students with career opportunities—especially for our disadvantaged students and students of color—it’s the foundation for our future thought-leaders in science, the individuals we need as our society grapples with climate change,” Thurmond said. “Our students, who are our future CEOs and elected officials, need a solid education in environmental literacy to combat the deadly effects of a changing climate and a pandemic while moving forward in developing future technologies and industry.”

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s NYSCamp was hosted as a virtual experience where delegates had the opportunity to attend over 325 individual sessions, including lectures, seminars, directed studies, and special events. The California nominees joined similar students from all across the country in gaining knowledge and experience in the STEM field. 132 top science students from across the United States and 12 Western Hemisphere nations represented the 59th class of delegates. Typically, the NYSCamp is held in the Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia.

The NYSCamp is made possible through the planning and fundraising of the National Youth Science Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization, whose mission is to inspire lifelong engagement and ethical leadership in STEM and related professions through mentoring, challenging, and motivating students.

Angelina Lee (Cerritos, Los Angeles County)

Angelina has been a part of the Science Olympiad, building Rube Goldberg machines and becoming interested in cryptography, since 2018. Frequently participating in Codebusters (a Science Olympiad event), she spent hours after school decoding secret messages using her knowledge of math and linguistics. As a part of the Science Olympiad Club in her high school, she has displayed her leadership talents through her recruitment of members and frequent training.

Through this passion and her experience in the Model UN, Angelina hopes to study math to become a computational linguist so she can help preserve languages and their cultural significance. She is planning to study computer science at the University of California this fall.

Jessica Qu (San Jose, Santa Clara County)

Jessica has been the head of Girls Who Code, a female-focused coding club at her high school, and part of her high school’s math club. She not only shows impressive coding and math skills, but a passion for closing STEM’s gender gap through her active recruitment and activity in Girls Who Code.

She is a talented scientist and mathematician as well as a determined student and leader who, in her own words, uses disappointment as a tool to drive her ambitions and bounce back from any setbacks. She hopes to study software engineering at either UCLA or Berkeley.

Michael Zhao (San Jose, Santa Clara County)

Michael became intensely interested in applying his lifelong interest in biology to public health during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. He collaborated with his county’s Department of Public Health to inform his local community about the pandemic in addition to leading efforts to provide personal protective equipment to his community.

He actively works to improve his school and community. He worked to establish Silicon Valley STEM 4 Youth, which promotes STEM curriculum to youth in the community, and served as chair of the Santa Clara Valley Water District Youth Commission implementing youth creek clean-up events. He is planning to study biology and government at Harvard University, where his future plans include science in service of society.

Vivian Hir (Dublin, Alameda County)

A Science Olympian, Vivian found her passion for biochemistry and plans to become a biomedical researcher. In her leadership positions, she has continually assisted her fellow students in learning and enjoying science.

Vivian not only has a passion for biochemistry and medical sciences but science in general and hopes to connect multiple scientific disciplines in order to be a better scientist and mathematician. She is planning to study chemistry and biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology this fall.

The National Youth Science Camp External link opens in new window or tab. is made possible through the planning and fundraising of the National Youth Science Foundation External link opens in new window or tab., a nonprofit organization with the mission to honor, foster, and encourage youth interest and excellence in science.

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Tony Thurmond — State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100

Last Reviewed: Wednesday, August 4, 2021
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