Ambassador Remarks at CampIdeas Closing Ceremony

Good afternoon, everyone! Congratulations to all of you for completing this incredible science camp. I hope that you have learned much about science and innovation while making new friends from around Mexico.

Today I want to leave you with a story which I hope you will take with you as you continue your education and pursue a career in the sciences.

This story is about Sophie German, a French mathematician and physicist. As the daughter of an 18th century French bourgeois family, Sophie had access to the best mathematics books that money could buy. She developed a passion for mathematics and physics, and was well-versed in even the most complicated mathematics books of her time.

Sophie German wanted to study at the prestigious French Ecole Polytechnique but was told it was only open to men. Thus, at age of 18, she took the identity of a male student to get a hold of the academy’s lecture notes and submitted answers to professors’ math problems. Sophie was a successful student and managed to keep her identity a secret from those around her. She would eventually go on to contribute to Fermat’s Last Theorem, and contributed to elasticity work which enabled the construction of the Eiffel Tower. Most importantly, Sophie never let anything, or anyone, get in the way of her learning.

Every single one of you has Sophie German’s desire to learn and keep learning. You have all participated in CampIdeas for the last couple months, both here at the welcoming Autonomous University of the State of Hidalgo, and in your home towns, inspiring your classmates to join you on your quest to be an agent of change.

Never let the desire to create or innovate fade away. Don’t be intimidated by mistakes as they will often lead you to your greatest success. Recognize that you are all motivated by the similar desire to learn. This approach to life will never let you down, and will make all the difference in the kind of person you become. Stay curious, continue learning!

As you receive your certificates today, I want you to remember how much you have accomplished, and how much more you can do. It may mean taking that advanced biology or physics class, or applying to a U.S. exchange program. Your final year of high school you can apply to the National Youth Science Camp-I urge you to do so. And in years to come, you will certainly want to consider the possibility of pursuing a graduate degree in our of our prestigious U.S. universities with a Fulbright-García Robles scholarship. Please visit our EducationUSA website and our Embassy facebook page to learn all about the great opportunities that await you.

I also encourage you to keep studying English.  Did you know that 88% of all scientific publications are in English?  Or that 56% of the internet content in the world is in English?  Whether you wish to work at NASA in the United States or in a research lab in China, English is a required skill.  And I can assure you that learning new languages is easier when your minds are young and fresh as yours are.  It’s as easy as watching your favorite TV show in English.  I hear The Big Bang Theory is quite popular – so you can even mix your love for science and for English in half an hour of television fun each day.

Before I conclude my remarks, I want to recognize the excellent work of the CampIdeas coordinators, a motivated group of alumni from U.S. Government exchange programs-including the National Youth Science Camp and Jovenes en Accion-headed by Melissa Gonzalez-Soto.  I also want to offer a sincere thank you to our hosts at the Autonomous University of the State of Hidalgo, and Rector Humberto Veras, himself an alum from a U.S. exchange program.

Sitting before me today is a group of the brightest and most talented STEM students Mexico has to offer. You are the future astronauts, chemists, doctors and innovators of your country, and of this world. All of you will remain engaged with your world, and will use your skills to benefit humanity. I cannot wait to see the amazing things you all will do. Good luck and congratulations!

Thank you all very much.