Six Local Teens Win Jefferson Lab Summer Externships

Six Newport News 11th graders recently won paid, six-week, summer externships at Jefferson Lab.

A dozen finalists competed in the oral presentation segment of Jefferson Lab's second annual African-Americans in Science & Technology Essay Contest. The finalists visited the Department of Energy basic physics research laboratory in late February for a day of activities, which culminated with the oral presentation segment of the contest.

Externship winners are Alicia Rodrigues, Denbigh High School; Keyona Grant, Warwick High School; and Latasha Davis, Steven Thompson, Tommie Canty and Sean Diggs of Woodside High School. Their essays covered the lives, challenges and accomplishments of a variety of 20th century African-American scientists and inventors. The essays included such innovators as Garrett Augustus Morgan, who created the first traffic signal and first gas mask; Dr. Charles Richard Drew and his lifesaving work in blood preservation and banking; and the groundbreaking work of Dr. Mae Jemison, the nation's first African-American female astronaut.

"Last year's essay contest was a great start and we wanted to continue that success this year," said Rhonda Scales, JLab Legal counsel and Black History committee member. "We believe the essay contest, coupled with the students' visit to the Lab and the externships, are a worthwhile way to encourage interest in science and technology, and an excellent way to increase our knowledge and appreciation of black history."

The 12 finalists met and spoke with a number of Lab employees, learned about the Lab and toured the site during their daylong visit. The winners will return on June 24 to begin their externships. The externships will be divided into two-week segments, so each student has the opportunity to experience three different work environments.