PHS junior selected for STEM Scholars

PHS junior chosen for selective Governor's STEM Scholars program
Posted on 11/21/2022
This is the image for the news article titled PHS junior chosen for selective Governor's STEM Scholars programPiscataway High School junior Sareena Naganand has been accepted as one of just 128 young scientists from around New Jersey to join the Governor’s STEM Scholars Class of 2022-23.

The program introduces New Jersey’s high-achieving high school and college students to industry, academic, and government research in New Jersey, to establish a relationship between these students and the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) sectors.

Throughout the school year, Naganand and her fellow STEM scholars will participate in four conferences to explore different aspects of New Jersey’s STEM economy focusing on government, academia, and industry. These conferences are being held at the Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy at Rutgers University, Rowan University, New Jersey Institute of Technology, and Stevens Institute of Technology.

The first conference was on Oct. 29 at Rutgers, and Naganand said it was a great experience.

“I got to meet a lot of people,” she said. “It was kind of overwhelming, to be honest. We heard from a lot of people involved in politics and STEM.”

STEM Scholars

Among the speakers was Dr. Andrew Zwicker, a state senator and head of communications and public outreach for the Plasma Physics Laboratory at Princeton University.

“He talked about his role in STEM and also in politics, so that was super insightful,” she said.

To be accepted to the Governor’s STEM Scholars, Naganand submitted an essay, teacher recommendation, and her transcripts. But she said she wasn’t expecting to be accepted.

“I was pretty surprised because I didn’t really have much expectation of getting in,” she said. “I just saw it on the internet and thought, ‘Well, I might as well give it a shot.’ So just taking a chance paid off.”

The Governor’s STEM Scholars is a public-private partnership between the Research & Development Council of New Jersey, the Office of the Governor, the New Jersey Department of Education, the New Jersey Secretary of Higher Education, and public and private research institutions based in New Jersey.

“New Jersey has always been at the center of innovation excellence and scientific discovery led by some of the world’s most talented STEM professionals,” said Anthony Cicatiello, president of the Research & Development Council of New Jersey. “The Governor’s STEM Scholars looks to secure this legacy into the future by inspiring students who will make up the next generation of these scientists, engineers, and innovators.”

Sareena Naganand at PHS

The STEM Scholars will also participate in a research project, led by undergraduate and graduate-level scholars, that advances the work of New Jersey’s research community. Additionally, the scholars will tour STEM facilities and laboratories and network with STEM professionals, to gain a wider view of STEM opportunities throughout the state.

Naganand hasn’t decided a field of study or where she wants to go to college. She said she is very interested in biology, medicine, and technology, so she’s hoping the Governor’s STEM Scholars program will help her narrow down her choices.

“I just feel like it will help me gain more knowledge in bio, science, STEM in general,” she said. “So any opportunity to gain that knowledge would be really helpful toward my future career. It will help me decide what I want to do.”

Naganand relishes the chance to hear from New Jersey’s leaders in the STEM field as well as to learn alongside other bright STEM students.

“Just listening to other people and hearing the paths that they took will really help, because then I can take inspiration from that to figure out what I want to do,” she said. “And the opportunity to connect with other high school students in the state is also helpful as I’m building those connections.

“We’re kind of helping each other out.”