GC: Calhoun Sandcrabs student goes to Israel then to Harvard

Jessica  Rodrigo By Jessica Rodrigo

Sept. 30, 2011 at 4:30 a.m.

Graduation from high school is a major milestone for parents. It means their children will either move on to college or move out of the house.

For Calhoun High School graduate Grace Gee's parents, it won't be anything new.

Before the 17-year-old Sandcrab crawled into the pool of high school graduates, she had already spent weeklong or monthlong stints away from home at camps conducting research projects.

Then Grace spent nearly all of July away from home at a science camp. But not just any camp, this one was different. Uniquely, it is one of the most prestigious summer research programs offered worldwide. She was one of 19 students who represented the United States, and 79 students attended internationally.

Second, the camp was located in Israel.

And third, she qualified and earned a full-ride scholarship to the camp, which covered travel and board expenses, after submitting a research paper about cells and DNA.

"I didn't really expect to get in because this program is like really awesome," she said, adding that the process was quite a rigorous one.

"We have to have recommendations from our math and science teachers and principals, and then, you have to write a research paper on something that you're interested in and not necessarily something that you've done. And you have to write an essay about your aspirations."

Her research project was called, "Computing Noise: Deciphering gene regulation at the single cell resolution."

Together, Grace and her partner, Lucinda McGivern, 18, of Canada, conducted research on a very expensive and delicate automatic fluorescence microscopy system.

If the scientists find her research conclusive, then Grace and Lucinda's findings will be published in journals throughout the science world.

"Aside from school, I really like research, so that was what got me into the research program," the self-described band-geek said.LIFE AS A SANDCRAB

On top of applying for the camp, her career at Calhoun High School was packed full of advanced-placement classes and extra-curricular activities.

Grace played the flute in the marching band and served as an officer. She was captain of the UIL math team, programmer in the robotics club and member of the Karankawa chapter of the National Honor Society and math club.

She also earned the title of valedictorian for the 2011 class with a 5.0 GPA. After accumulating credit for several advanced placement classes, Grace's GPA jumped above the usual 4.0 scale.

"I think I've sorta been involved in math ever since, probably elementary and middle school," she recalled. "In middle school, that was when I was in Mathcounts and that's when I realized that there was math in problem solving."

From that point on, she worked closely with her teachers and counselors to move her way through the science and math world by means of extracurricular activities.

"I would like to thank these teachers and administrators for helping me succeed in my science endeavors and high school career," she beamed. She credited teachers Dana Dworaczyk, James Weatherwax, Jeffery Williams, Erin Weaver, Chad Flisowski, Jennifer Teehan, Brandon Stiewig and Jackie Meyer.

"They were amazing."ON TO THE NEXTCHAPTER

Now that summer vacation is over, and Grace has returned from her trip to the Middle East, she is off on her next endeavor - college. And just as she didn't attend the most common of summer camps, she is off to one of the most prestigious Ivy League schools. Port Lavaca-born Grace is attending Harvard University, nestled in Cambridge, Mass.

Though she has not declared a major, she has an idea of where she wants to be.

"Harvard is known for its science- and math-related fields," she said. "I want to get my master's eventually, too."



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