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Sep 30, 2021

Two Rumson-Fair Haven Students Selected as Governor’s STEM Scholars

Annette Kersten (left) and Sophia Dengler have been named 2022 Governor’s STEM Scholars.

Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School is proud to announce Juniors Sophia Dengler and Annette Kersten have been selected as 2022 Governor’s STEM Scholars. They will join only 98 other New Jersey students from across 20 counties in this distinguished program.

Admission to the program was highly selective with only a 15 percent acceptance rate. The Governor’s STEM Scholars Advisory Council reviewed applications using very rigorous criteria, including academic achievement, STEM engagement and passion, and potential for impact, among others.

The Governor’s STEM Scholars program, founded in 2013, consists of nearly 600 scholars and alumni. Based on the belief that maintaining a pipeline of talented individuals is critical to maintaining excellence in innovation, the program was created to engage the next generation of research and innovation leaders in the state’s vast STEM economy early. Both of RFH’s scholars learned of the program through their participation in RFH’s National Science Honor Society, begun and advised currently by Jodi Foster, a veteran physics teacher.

Dengler is especially interested in outer space and aerospace engineering. Her interest in STEM began in elementary school, and since then, she has made STEM a prominent part of her life. Last year, she was elected to be the DNA Day Chair of RFH’s chapter of the Science National Honor Society. She also participates in Science League and Environmental Awareness Club.

In the future, Dengler hopes to make STEM education more accessible and hands-on for children. She also hopes to further her education in STEM and work in an interactive environment that will pave the way for new discoveries and inventions.

After learning about her acceptance, Dengler shared, “I am very excited to see where STEM Scholars takes me educationally and to meet professionals in the STEM field who can talk about their experiences and introduce me to possible careers. I hope that this program will help me to further understand how I can apply science, technology, engineering, and math to my everyday life in order to hopefully make a positive and revolutionary impact on the world one day.”

Kersten is heavily involved in the RFH school community as a member of Key Club, Student Government Association, Science League and as an editor for the yearbook. She is on the Executive Council for RFH’s chapter of the Science National Honor Society and is the Social Media Chair for the Environmental Awareness Club.

The Governor’s STEM Scholars program appealed to Annie largely due to the research opportunities it presents. More specifically, Kersten said, “The opportunity to be involved with the Governor’s STEM program is very exciting to me. I look forward to exploring STEM facilities and labs within New Jersey and meeting with professionals and researchers in this field. I also hope to gain new skills and connections while learning about possible career pathways within STEM. I hope this will help me to reach my goals of positively influencing the world around me.”

Through the program, Kersten hopes to dive deeper into computer science and engineering and aspires to pursue one of these areas as a major in college.

Through the prestigious program, Dengler and Kersten will be involved in various activities throughout the school year that will enable them to:

  • gain a 360-degree view of NJ’s STEM economy through four symposiums focusing on government, academia, industry, and a commencement;
  • network with the state’s leading STEM researchers and professionals from institutions like NJIT, Johnson & Johnson, and the NJ General Assembly;
  • obtain exclusive access to internship opportunities across the state;
  • meet C-level STEM professionals and executives through Fireside Chats, such as former AT&T CEO Dr. Morris Tanenbaum, known as the founding father of the digital age;
  • develop a research project with students from all across New Jersey;
  • compete to be named the state’s leading STEM citizen;
  • visit top STEM facilities at places like PSEG, Bristol Myers Squibb and Princeton Plasma Physics Lab;
  • join an elite network of young STEM professionals; and,
  • ultimately secure the state’s STEM talent pipeline for years to come.

STEM Supervisor Jon Pennetti added, “Sophie and Annie are outstanding examples of focused, committed, curious and motivated students who will no doubt go on to make their mark in the fields of STEM and improve the lives of others. We couldn’t be prouder to share their accomplishments and are excited for their work and experiences to motivate other RFH students to continue to explore all of the possibilities that STEM has to offer.”