|As we read more about Ilse, we were suitably impressed by the fact that she is fluent in four languages (her father is German and her mother is Mexican). She was a dynamo from the outset: her chemistry teacher wrote about Ilse’s approaching him as a freshman, two years before entering his class, to seek his help on a project to determine whether “blood-thinning diseases such as hemophilia compromise the blood spatter patterns used by forensic investigators.”
She won the Colorado state science fair in physics not only for the creativity and care with which she did this project but also because of the professional level of her analysis, after having taught herself the field of multivariate statistics just to make sense out of her 500 data trials.
Her history teacher described how she develops ambitious projects for state-wide History Day competitions that combine primary research in historical documents with her love of science. She has studied Rachel Carson and DDT, the role of Werner von Braun in space research after work for the Nazi regime, and most recently Dr. Virginia Apgar, who developed the Apgar scoring system for newborn babies and founded the March of Dimes to do research on birth defects.
When Ilse shot beyond the level of AP courses and post-AP courses available in French and differential equations, her high school invited her to help out with teachers going on leave, so she began teaching first and second period history at the 8th and 9th grade levels. The experiment turned out to be a great success for all involved. And her science teacher and debate coach commented that “Ilse’s brilliance spans disciplines,” that she thinks globally and understands global complexities.
When Ilse sprang from the top fifty to one of the five Finalists and the judges were interviewing her by telephone, she told us that at present she is helping her Mexican grandmother with her English so she can become a citizen in time to vote in the presidential election in November.
Ilse continues to write, having won regional and state prizes just this spring in drama (a play about a woman as serious presidential candidate…), critical essays (a comparison of genocide through the ages), and poetry (One H Two O, a poem about water). For her extensive volunteer activity at her school and with the Humane Society she has won a Volunteer Service Award from President Obama. She has just joined the Young Ambassador program at the Smithsonian Institution’s Latino Center, for which she will work at the History Colorado Center in Denver in the summer of 2016. She is an extraordinary dynamo indeed.
Ilse was accepted Early Decision at Smith College, which she will enter in the fall. She expects to study Political Science and Chemistry, with the long-term goal of becoming a physician in international public health.