Science Superstars Shine on the National Stage

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This story is part of a series of profiles the Ventura County Office of Education is presenting about graduating seniors in the Class of 2024.

emily-ramon-horizEmily Bryant and Ramon Moreno Jr. have a few things in common. They’re both about to graduate from Thousand Oaks High School. They both wowed the judges with their entries in the Ventura County Science Fair. And they both went on to win major awards in national and international science competitions.

Father's Accident Inspires Her Science Fair Project

c24w-v2It started for Emily when she entered the Ventura County Science Fair presented annually by the Ventura County Office of Education. Her project was about using drones to deliver life-saving defibrillators to people suffering from cardiac arrest – a topic she was inspired to pursue after an agonizing wait for help when her dad was seriously injured in a snowboarding accident.

image003crEmily’s work was so impressive that she was chosen to be the first student to ever represent Ventura County in the prestigious Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF). At ISEF, her project won a special award sponsored by the Central Intelligence Agency.

She’ll never forget when one of the ISEF judges approached her in tears. The judge shared that she recently lost her brother to sudden cardiac arrest and that the idea behind Emily’s project could have saved his life. “That was so beautiful and emotional for me. It was really special knowing that this has real-world applications and people’s lives can actually be changed.”

Emily will be attending Duke University and majoring in public health and business. She hopes to build a career where she can help increase access to medical services for underprivileged communities.

A Love of Science Propels Him to Harvard

IMG_2474crFor Ramon, the Ventura County Science Fair also proved to be a launching pad to bigger things. After his project about slowing the aging process won an award at the local science fair, he submitted it to the Regeneron Science Talent Search, which attracted more than 2,100 entrants from across the US.

The first good news came when he was named one of 300 top scholars, earning him $2,000. It got even better when he was chosen as one of just 40 finalists, an honor that came with an impressive $25,000 prize.

When he traveled to Washington, DC to receive his award, he realized he was the only Latino student in the group. “I felt imposter syndrome for sure, especially not seeing anyone who looked like me. But it was also motivating.” Ramon says his scientific achievements definitely played a role in his acceptance to Harvard University, where he will be studying developmental and regenerative biology.

Ramon is a first-generation college student whose father works as a truck driver and his mom as a cashier. He says his parents never pushed him or his sisters down a particular path. “They just spent the time to raise us and care for us and pay attention to us. It fostered the right environment for us to choose where we wanted to go ourselves.”

Both Ramon and Emily were part of the Center for Advanced Studies and Research at Thousand Oaks High School, a rigorous AP capstone program. They want to thank The Center’s faculty and staff for giving them the knowledge and critical thinking skills they used to reach such tremendous heights.

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