A Corvallis High School senior attended the seventh annual National Society of High School Scholars (NSHSS) Nobel Week hosted by Stockholm University in Stockholm, Sweden, Dec. 5-10.
Megan Kirkland said the experience and conference was amazing.
“It was definitely an experience of a lifetime,” she said.
Kirkland applied to the program in September after her trip to Amman, Jordan, where she was working with refugees.
“Ever since I was a kid I’ve always dreamed of meeting a Nobel Prize winner and seeing what it takes to become a winner,” she said. “I completed the application with essays and letters of recommendation. I did it and thought ‘there has to be something good from this or at least I tried.’”
In her essay Kirkland said she was raised to believe she could achieve anything.
“I knew one of the first steps was believing in myself and with that I could make amazing things happen,” she wrote. “As I grew up, I learned that it is not always easy to do this.”
She did research about refugees all around the world and decided she to create awareness in her own community to start caring for those who truly need help.
“I know that if one person believes enough in a cause, it can make a huge difference in their support,” Kirkland said. “I found an opportunity this summer to travel to Amman, Jordan, to work with refugees. It was during this experience that I realized I wanted to dedicate my life to serving others and help them become the best they can be.”
She said she dreams of making a difference in her community, country and world.
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“I work hard at making my dreams a reality by searching for opportunities that will allow me to serve,” she concluded. “There was a quote that someone once told me and it goes like this, ‘If you’re crazy enough to think that you can change the world, you will one day.’ I might just be crazy enough.”
A month after submitting her application she heard she had been accepted and was one of seven students to receive a $1,500 travel grant to Stockholm.
“It helped a lot because flights from Montana are so expensive,” Kirkland said. “I went a few days early to explore Sweden with my dad. The food is amazing, they don’t add sugar and many things are very salty. They really enjoy little appetizers and their desserts and cheeses are definitely my favorite.”
Nearly 30 students were selected to the international honors and scholarship program from 13 countries/regions from all over the world: China, Hong Kong, Italy, Switzerland, India, United States, Thailand, Zimbabwe, Japan, Ukraine, Russia, Australia and Sweden.
The group attended lectures at Stockholm University presented by university professors on global challenges, Swedish innovation, research in the Arctic and the history of the Nobel Prize. They explored the Nobel Museum and enjoyed a Swedish lunch at the university’s canteen with local students. They heard from the 2019 Nobel Prize winners in Physics, Chemistry and Economic Sciences. And they traveled to Gothenburg for the Nobel Dialogue full of inspirational discussions by Nobel Laureates, policymakers and scientists
The main event of Nobel week was called “Into the Unknown” where Nobel Laureates, the world’s leading scientists, key opinion leaders and policy makers discussed a topical science-related theme and physics, chemistry and economic sciences.
Kirkland said the “Into the Unknown” lectures were inspiring.
“They had six of the past Nobel winners and it was so impressive,” she said. ““It was great because everyone in the room wore headsets and you had to click which language you’d like to hear. Mostly everyone spoke English.”
James Lewis, president of National Society of High School Scholars, co-founded the organization with Claes Nobel, grand-nephew of Alfred Nobel, who established the Nobel Prize.
“We believe today’s students will become the next Nobel laureates,” Lewis said. “Through programs like Nobel Week, we hope to inspire young people to pursue greatness and to have a positive impact on humanitarian causes. During the event in Stockholm, Sweden, students are able to meet the Nobel laureates, attend their lectures and converse with the committee members who choose the Nobel Prize winners. The experience can be life changing.”
Kirkland said her life was changed and that she is inspired to find ways to serve and improve the world.
For more information visit https://www.nshss.org/.