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Athena Verghis

1475

Bold Points

4x

Nominee

1x

Winner

Bio

I am a very academically driven student who enjoys advocating for the environment. My rigorous workload at school is made up of many AP and honors classes that keep me on my toes. Outside of school, I hike at Patapsco State Park, volunteer at the nature conservancy, and try Pinterest recipes in the kitchen. Most recently, my sister and I successfully made 1-minute microwave mug cakes for the start of spring. I have volunteered often at the Howard County Conservancy and church events and worked as a Courtesy Clerk at Safeway. I love learning new things (literally anything) and sharing it with others. Food, specifically my mom's cooking, has played a disguised role in establishing my community. As a daughter of immigrants, I see cuisine as a clear way to connect back home when language and geographic distance stand as barriers.

Education

Georgia Institute of Technology-Main Campus

Bachelor's degree program
2020 - 2024
  • Majors:
    • Environmental Engineering Technology/Environmental Technology

Marriotts Ridge High

High School
2016 - 2020
  • Majors:
    • Environmental Engineering
  • Minors:
    • Spanish

Miscellaneous

  • Desired degree level:

  • Graduate schools of interest:

  • Transfer schools of interest:

  • Majors of interest:

  • Not planning to go to medical school
  • Career

    • Dream career field:

      Environmental Services

    • Dream career goals:

      Senior Engineer

    • Safeway Courtesy Clerk

      Safeway
      2018 – 2018

    Sports

    Track & Field

    Junior Varsity
    2017 – 20181 year

    Research

    • Environmental Chemistry and Sustainability

      Independent — Research Scientist
      2017 – 2018

    Arts

    • Johns Hopkins Peabody Children's Choir

      Performance Art
      MidSummer Night's Dream, The Adaam's Family
      2013 – Present

    Public services

    • Public Service (Politics)

      Howard County Board of Sustainability — Student Member
      2018 – Present
    • Public Service (Politics)

      Howard County Board of Elections — Election Judge
      2018 – 2020
    • Advocacy

      Student Bay Advisory Council of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation — Member
      2017 – Present
    • Public Service (Politics)

      Maryland State Senate — Intern
      2019 – 2019
    • Advocacy

      Fund For the Public Interest — Intern
      2018 – 2018
    • Volunteering

      The Learning Academy — Math, English, and Public Speaking Tutor
      2013 – 2019

    Future Interests

    Advocacy

    Politics

    Volunteering

    Philanthropy

    Entrepreneurship

    Reputation Rhino Protection and Preservation of Wildlife and Nature Scholarship
    It’s a warm Saturday evening in Ellicott City, Maryland. To celebrate my parents’ twentieth wedding anniversary we have dinner at our local crab shack. As we pile the crab and oyster shells at the end of the table, I remember their strange habitable properties for new life. Growing up in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, the value of sustainable practice has been embedded in how I treat our natural resources. Due to overharvesting in the bay, oyster populations have been dropping, negatively impacting the rest of the ecosystem. However, naturally, these shells, if returned back to waterways, are capable of rebuilding oyster reefs to restore populations. This sparks my insatiable curiosity. I have personally defined creativity as toying with what is in front of me to improve not just myself but also those around me. Through interdisciplinary learning and observing details around me, I have felt truly myself and found ways to better my community. The pile of shells encourages me to look beyond the current system of excessive waste. Like a Coke bottle or the daily newspaper, I consider the option of recycling these shells. In theory, creating a closed-loop system like this would be successful, but I am stuck logistically. Do the shells need to be clean? Who would collect the shells from the restaurants? Will there be any incentives for restaurants to participate? These are all things that come to my inquisitive mind as I envision this plan. I connect with different volunteer-based organizations, peers I could reach out to, and create a timeline for the project. Once we get back home, I start searching the web to quickly find environmental organizations with similar oyster shell recycling programs and interest to expand into my hometown of Ellicott City. After many tedious yet fruitful conversations and email threads with local restaurant owners and volunteers with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, we are able to establish a new relationship between the root of overharvesting and its modest solution. I had to learn a new language of small business owners to better relate to my audience. Many crab shacks and oyster houses are now able to collect shells to be picked up for monetary compensation and stand as a more environmentally conscious business. A simple family dinner has now redefined its value because of a small shell that caught my attention at the end of the table. With open eyes and a willing mind, a single observation can change one’s outlook completely. I have seen the greatest personal growth when I am in an environment that lets me discover, question, and create. I enjoy viewing new situations as puzzles waiting to be solved, connecting skills and past experiences for the greatest solution. As a future environmental engineer, I look forward to applying this excitement for detailed observations and big-picture problems to challenge myself and the world around me.
    Amplify Green Innovation Scholarship
    It’s a warm Saturday evening in Ellicott City, Maryland. To celebrate my parents’ twentieth wedding anniversary we have dinner at our local crab shack. As we pile the crab and oyster shells at the end of the table, I remember their strange habitable properties for new life. Growing up in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, the value of sustainable practice has been embedded in how I treat our natural resources. Due to overharvesting in the bay, oyster populations have been dropping, negatively impacting the rest of the ecosystem. However, naturally, these shells, if returned back to waterways, are capable of rebuilding oyster reefs to restore populations. This sparks my insatiable curiosity. I have personally defined creativity as toying with what is in front of me to improve not just myself but also those around me. Through interdisciplinary learning and observing details around me, I have felt truly myself and found ways to better my community. The pile of shells encourages me to look beyond the current system of excessive waste. Like a Coke bottle or the daily newspaper, I consider the option of recycling these shells. In theory, creating a closed-loop system like this would be successful, but I am stuck logistically. Do the shells need to be clean? Who would collect the shells from the restaurants? Will there be any incentives for restaurants to participate? These are all things that come to my inquisitive mind as I envision this plan. I connect with different volunteer-based organizations, peers I could reach out to, and create a timeline for the project. Once we get back home, I start searching the web to quickly find environmental organizations with similar oyster shell recycling programs and interest to expand into my hometown of Ellicott City. After many tedious yet fruitful conversations and email threads with local restaurant owners and volunteers with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, we are able to establish a new relationship between the root of overharvesting and its modest solution. I had to learn a new language of small business owners to better relate to my audience. Many crab shacks and oyster houses are now able to collect shells to be picked up for monetary compensation and stand as a more environmentally conscious business. A simple family dinner has now redefined its value because of a small shell that caught my attention at the end of the table. With open eyes and a willing mind, a single observation can change one’s outlook completely. I have seen the greatest personal growth when I am in an environment that lets me discover, question, and create. I enjoy viewing new situations as puzzles waiting to be solved, connecting skills and past experiences for the greatest solution. As a future environmental engineer, I look forward to applying this excitement for detailed observations and big-picture problems to challenge myself and the world around me.
    Bold Moments No-Essay Scholarship
    On January 29, 2020, I was invited to serve as the first student keynote speaker for the annual Maryland Environmental Legislative Summit. In a room of over 300 people, I shared my concerns about climate change and Maryland's inaction. I ended with a message of hope: “We stand here convinced of a bright future for Maryland because when we change the root, we can change the crop. Let us replace the root of ignorance with much-needed understanding and unwavering commitment to the future. Let us replace frustration with hope. Because this is your backyard as well as our future."
    Great Outdoors Wilderness Education Scholarship
    Winner
    Her soft dancing glimmer contrasted the beating summer sun of the mid-Atlantic. As two osprey flirted above us and leopard frogs led hymns of a repeating hum, I experienced an epiphany - her unparalleled beauty must be preserved. To many, she is seen as an abandoned home of irredeemable repair, but to me, she is a great host of life. Like an inspiring teacher, she leads by example, and has taught me to be selfless, resilient, and most importantly, to remember my roots. She is the Chesapeake Bay. The Chesapeake Bay began dying as heavy development led to insurmountable amounts of litter, runoff, and toxic bacteria, killing most life in the water. Regardless of these challenges, she remained resilient. By solely increasing mussel populations in riverbeds, the dissolved oxygen levels increased and turbidity cleared. Furthermore, it restored underwater plant growth, improving soil quality and therefore, aquatic plant life. Using the Chesapeake Bay as a mentor, I mirrored her resilience when tackling AP Chemistry. Though I would understand the concepts, I would not do well on assessments which soon reflected in the grades I brought home. Instead of letting myself get washed by this setback, I used this opportunity to work through assignments and past tests with my teacher after school, find study resources in books and join evening Skype calls with other students. Furthermore, I applied these techniques to other classes and taught them to peers or students I tutored. By the end of the year, even though chemistry did not become my easiest class, I found the course extremely interesting and was proud of the type of student and learner I had become. Like a fresh bed of mussels in the Bay, new approaches in how I studied for chemistry brought unforeseen and long-term benefits for me and those around me. Healthy soil, productive farms, and climate stability are a few indirect and often underappreciated benefits the Chesapeake Bay provides for residents. The nearly endless list of services has taught me to do more than is expected of me — to serve others and the environment in many different capacities and to do so frequently. Growing up in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, the value of sustainable practice has been embedded in how I treat our natural resources. Due to overharvesting in the bay, oyster populations have been dropping, negatively impacting the rest of the ecosystem. However, naturally, these shells, if returned back to waterways, are capable of rebuilding oyster reefs to restore populations. This sparks my insatiable curiosity. With a sense of exploration, I have personally defined creativity as toying with what is in front of me to improve not just myself but also those around me. Through interdisciplinary learning and observing details around me, I have felt truly myself and found ways to better my community. The pile of shells encourages me to look beyond the current system of excessive waste. Like a Coke bottle or the daily newspaper, I consider the option of recycling these shells. In theory, creating a closed-loop system like this would be successful, but I am stuck logistically. Do the shells need to be clean? Who would collect the shells from the restaurants? Will there be any incentives for restaurants to participate? These are all things that come to my inquisitive mind as I envision this plan. I connect with different volunteer-based organizations, peers I could reach out to, and create a timeline for the project. Once we get back home, I start searching the web to quickly find environmental organizations with similar oyster shell recycling programs and interest to expand into my hometown of Ellicott City. After many tedious yet fruitful conversations and email threads with local restaurant owners and volunteers with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, we are able to establish a new relationship between the root of overharvesting and its modest solution. I had to learn a new language of small business owners to better relate to my audience. Many crab shacks and oyster houses are now able to collect shells to be picked up for monetary compensation and stand as a more environmentally conscious business. A simple family dinner has now redefined its value because of a small shell that caught my attention at the end of the table. Most significantly, the Chesapeake Bay reminds me of my ancestral home in Kerala, India, specifically its natural beauty and the recent onset of issues both areas face. Currently, intensified monsoons and heatwaves in Kerala have brought powerful and long-term destruction to the land and people. Though specific species may be different, both ecosystems are facing the consequences of erosion, poor environmental legislation, and a changing climate. These similarities have helped me realize a vision to restore Kerala as well with the tools I have learned in the Chesapeake Bay. Committing to saving the Chesapeake Bay has opened my eyes to ways I can serve globally, especially for my family in India. Today I sit on the Howard County Environmental Sustainability Board and work with influential adults who have made me realize the value of a student’s voice. I am thankful I have found a voice to serve and protect her because she permeates every part of me. Through the time I have spent with the Bay and her rivers, hills, and people, I have decided to dedicate my life’s work to preserve our natural resources by pursuing an Environmental Engineering undergraduate degree. Thinking about the next four years, I can easily envision myself working with honeybees, electricians, and policymakers — maybe even all at the same time! As an environmental engineering student at the Georgia Institute of Technology, I will be engaging with and learning from every system and part of our environment and society to truly understand every angle of a problem. Tech offers me unique opportunities to develop skills I hope to one day use back at home, redesigning Baltimore, to structurally prepare the city to withstand the effects of climate change.