Lena Blackmon

Hometown: Vail, AZ

high school: University High School

college: Stanford University

MAJOR: Material Science

Lena’s inquisitive spirit is integral to her personality: it is what allowed her to transition to American life in the 4th grade, after moving from Trinidad to Tucson. Shortly after, University of Arizona engineering students mentored her and her 5th grade class, and she realized that an inquisitive spirit is also integral to STEM fields, especially engineering. These two female engineers were role models to her, and she admired the fact that they too constantly seemed to be translating ideas into reality.

And so Lena stayed curious. She sought out the challenge and worked her hardest to overcome it; in high school she has overcome challenges from rigorous coursework to the spinal fusion operation she had in the summer between her freshman and sophomore years. Throughout it all, her parents have shown constant support, and she is so incredibly grateful for them.

Ultimately, they taught her, from her days of “made-up” stories and LEGOs, the value of hard work; over time, she has internalized that lesson. From plunking piano keys at age 5 to studying her Chemistry textbook that trying summer in between freshman and sophomore year, Lena has always aimed to make her good better and her better best, and won’t let anything stop her.

Simply put, Lena is a nerd: she loves learning for the sake of learning, and this is what allowed her to become a high-achieving student. She feels a rush when she recites poetry-- her own, or for competitions such as Poetry Out Loud-- and she’s always excited to deliver a nanotechnology workshop to children. From speeches to semiconductors, she finds absolute joy in creation and iteration. In all, Lena’s “nerdiness”-- her fascination and utter excitement about the world and the ideas we put into it, is what allows her to be a teacher and a leader.

With encouragement and kindness, she has taught piano and Chemistry. Because she has such a deep love for learning, she aims to spread that love through providing children with better educational programs, from engineering camp at the Children’s Museum, to founding an interscholastic STEM program to maintain academic excellence even with her school district’s $17 million dollar budget deficit staring her in the face. Lena’s earnest love for the ideas she believes in has allowed her to fine-tune her leadership skills through conferences like the 2013 Global Student Leaders Conference and has led her to get on stages to advocate educational equality, racial equality and gender equality, to the mock election for President of her school, and to be a member of her school’s Black Scholars Club and President of Gender Equality Club.

Lena acts upon knowledge because she is in a constant state of fascination—it’s just who she is. At her core of cores, she is simply a girl excited to learn, to share, and to lead.

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