Why Intel Science Challenge Semi-Finalist Samantha Garvey Is Already A Winner

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Samantha Garvey, 2012 Intel Annual Science Talent Search semi-finalist (Credit: womenyoushouldknow.net)

On Jan 12th, Intel announced the semi-finalists of its 2012 Annual Science Talent Search. Among the 300 high school seniors was Samantha Garvey, a bright 17-year old, who currently also happens to be, homeless.

Sadly, this is not the first time such has been the case for the vivacious youngster. Growing up, she and her family had been forced to seek shelters on a few occasions. However, things finally stabilized about six years ago, and while money was still tight, her parents managed to earn enough to pay for a rental apartment in Brentwood, Long Island.

Then, bad luck struck again - About eight months ago, her mother, a nurse's assistant had to quit her job following a car crash injury. Try as he did, her father who is a cab driver could not make ends meet. On New Year's Eve, the inevitable happened — the family of five was evicted from their apartment, leaving them with no choice but to seek out a County shelter.

Despite the rough times, Samantha remained focused on her goals - The aspiring Marine Biologist not only continued her research for the Intel Science competition but also, completed college applications to Yale and Brown Universities.

All her hard work and drive certainly seems to have paid off. Thanks to the publicity she and her family have received, there has been an outpouring of donations from people all over the country. Also, Suffolk County officials have assigned them a subsidized rental apartment that will be available in a few days. And it gets better - On Thursday, the teen appeared on the Ellen DeGeneres show where she was given a $50,000 check for college tuition - A gift from phone giant AT&T.

As for the idea that got her all this attention? That's not too shabby either. The enterprising teenager spent two years studying the effects of the Asian shore crab which eats the mussel population in a salt marsh on Long Island. What she discovered was that over the years, the mussels have managed to increase the thickness of their shell to protect themselves against this ruthless predator. Samantha will find out on January 25th if she is one of the forty finalists who will compete for the grand prize of $100,000 in March. However, in our and the minds of most people who have read about her, she is already a winner.

Now in its 69th year, the Intel Science Talent Search attracts over 1,800 entries in a wide range of science and math disciplines. Only 300 semifinalists make the first cut from this list, which is further narrowed down to the top 40.

The finalists are flown to Washington DC, where they compete for the top ten prizes, which range from $100,000 to $20,000. The remaining 30 finalists receive $7,500 each. Every finalist receives a new laptop and best of all - The opportunity to meet the President or Vice President of the United States. Past winners of this contest have gone on to win some of the world's most prestigious science prizes including, seven Nobel Prizes!

Resources: huffingtonpost.com, news.yahoo.com

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