Anahi Soto

A sophomore at Proviso East High School will travel to Lowell, Massachusetts in June to attend the Congress of Future Science and Technology Leaders — a prestigious program that’s exclusively for honors high school students who are passionate about studying in the STEM (science, technology, engineering or mathematics) fields.

Anahi Soto, 16, was nominated to represent Illinois at the Congress by Dr. John C. Mather, winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physics and one of Time magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World” for 2007. Mather is science director of the Washington D.C.-based National Academy of Future Scientists and Technologists.

“The purpose of this event is to honor, inspire, motivate and direct the top students in the country who aspire to be scientists and technologists, to stay true to their dream and, after the event, to provide a path, plan and resources to help them reach their goal,” according to a statement released by the academy.

The congress is a three-day event that allows attendees to mingle and learn from Nobel laureates, National Medal of Science recipients and university deans.

“This is a crucial time in America when we need more nimble-minded and creative scientists and technologists who are even better prepared for a future that is changing exponentially,” said Richard Rossi, executive director of the National Academy of Future Scientists and Technologists, in the statement.

In an email statement, Soto, a Maywood resident, said her achievement was made possible by the entire village.

“I would like to express this achievement with the people who’ve helped me to mature into the person I am now,” she said. “I feel that communities contribute to an individual’s development as a person.”

In addition to networking, Soto will also benefit from the congress’ diverse array of free services and programs, including “online social networks through which future scientists and technologists can communicate; opportunities for students to be guided and mentored by tech and science leaders; and communications for parents and students on college acceptance and finances, skills acquisition, internships, career guidance and much more,” according to the academy’s statement.