Alverno High School Senior Wins Youth Science Center Essay Contest for Second Year

LeAnn Zuñiga wins essay contest for second year in a row

Published : Friday, October 31, 2014 | 10:45 PM

Alverno High School senior LeAnn Zuñiga is the repeat winner of the Youth Science Center’s 4th Annual Essay Contest for students ages 8 to 17. Zuñiga’s essay was chosen both years from more than 40 essays submitted by high school students from across the San Gabriel Valley.

The contest meant to promote enthusiasm towards future careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) provides students with the opportunity to share their interest in a STEM career as well a new idea or invention that would solve a problem and benefit the 21st century. Winners receive a $300 certificate to attend the Gala with two guests and a cash price of $500.

For her essay, Zuñiga expressed her desire to go into bioengineering, with an emphasis in immunology and pathology. To solve one of the largest problems of the 21st century, she shared her concept for a solar power distillation system, which would bring in sea water to be distilled by the sun. The salt drawn from the water could be used for a number of different needs including food preservation and chemical uses. Additionally, the salt could be broken down to withdraw the borates, which could help to preserve existing wood structures.

“I was very fortunate to have a teacher in elementary school that peaked my interest in math,” Zuñiga said. “When I learned to love math, the interest in science followed, I’ve been able to have wonderful experiences including SEAL, acting as a Summer Research Intern at Caltech, this essay contest, and other opportunities. I’m looking forward to creating a path to becoming an immunologist and pathologist.”

At Alverno, Zuñiga is an AP and Honors student enrolled in AP Calculus, AP English Literature, AP Studio Art, and AP Environmental Science. She is heavily involved with Alverno’s Science and Math Club and the Alverno Solar Energy Activity Laboratory (SEAL) research team, in partnership with Caltech. The SEAL team is working to develop inexpensive, renewable, and carbon-free energy sources. Zuñiga is trying to narrow down her college list but knows that she wants to attend Caltech for graduate school.

“Over the past few years at Alverno, LeAnn has worked incredibly hard and really strived to be as strong as she could be in the STEM fields,” said Julia V. Fanara, Alverno High School Head of School. “She has taken every opportunity Alverno has provided her and has created her own as well. We are extremely proud of her accomplishments and know that she will be successful as she moves forward. At Alverno, we believe in empowering each young woman to be exactly the person she wants to be and we are pleased to see LeAnn as a confident and gifted future Alverno alumna.”

About Alverno High School

Alverno High School is an independent, Catholic, college preparatory school for young women dedicated to preparing them to function in a society as informed, knowledgeable persons, who have the requisite skills to make and implement mature decisions about complex problems. Enlivened by the spirit of its Immaculate Heart Community sponsors, and mindful of the Franciscan roots of its founders, Alverno’s program—academic, spiritual, aesthetic, social, and physical—is shaped by the staff, trustees, and students in light of the world for which the students are being educated. Alverno’s mission is to empower each young woman to be exactly the person she wants to be and since 1960, Alverno has empowered more than 4,200 women to meet that goal. For more information about Alverno High School, please call (626) 355-3463 or visit



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