Solana Pacific School sixth grader Michi Synn was recently selected to be the keynote speaker at the San Diego Festival of Science & Engineering’s MVP luncheon on March 2. Barely clearing the podium, the 11-year-old scientist delivered her speech to about 200 people, including festival sponsors, elected officials and community leaders inside the Western Metal Supply building at Petco Park.
Michi was selected as this year’s student speaker for her accomplishments and her passion for STEM education. Last year she won the NBC show “Genius Junior,” a competition that featured some of the brightest kids in America, and for the last two summers she has been an intern at a biotech company, conducting cancer immunotherapy research.
“For most of my life I have been fascinated with science, medicine and math,” said Michi, recalling the story of how at the age of three, she thanked her nurse for giving her a vaccine shot. “The concept of stimulating the body’s immune system is still magical to me.”
Michi spoke about how the work and support from the people in the room is helping to inspire many future scientists. At Solana Pacific she has an opportunity to “think and wonder” and to take on many hands-on projects in her STREAM classes, such as designing robots, conducting DNA experiments, writing code and building solutions to real-world problems.
Michi said when she grows up she would like to be a physician scientist, specifically a practicing pediatrician working to find a cure for primary immunodeficiency diseases.
“I want to start making people’s lives better when they are young and I want to do it through science,” Michi said. “These are big goals.”
Following her speech, Michi was particularly excited to meet UC San Diego professor Shu Chien, the National Medal of Science recipient under President Barack Obama. She also met District 1 City Councilmember Barbara Bry, the founder of Athena San Diego, an organization that works to empower and connect women in STEM.