For most students, a trip to the principal’s office means trouble. Katie Richards, a 17-year-old Samohi senior, was thinking along the same lines after receiving a note summoning her to the office before she was greeted by friends, family and a $40,000 scholarship from Edison International.
Richards was one of 30 students to receive a $40k scholarship from Edison International, who doles out $1.2 million in scholarships annually to students prepared to embark on a STEM-related career. To win the scholarship, she submitted a video to Edison detailing how she would help prevent powerline-caused fires in the area.
When Richards arrived at the office, a flurry of clicking camera shutters snapped and whirred as shock spread across the Samohi senior’s face. Edison’s CEO greeted Richards with flowers and an oversized check while mom, grandparents, teachers, counselors and a friend clapped and cheered.
“I was kind of shocked when I walked in,” Richards said, after the scholarship ceremony. “I had to leave early today, so I thought I filled out a form wrong or something. I thought maybe that’s why I was being called in. But this… is all… I’m still processing it.”
With her newly earned scholarship money, Richards plans to attend the Stevens Institute of Technology, located in Hoboken, New Jersey. There she’ll develop her engineering skills, such as the skills she showed off to win Edison’s attention and a scholarship.
Richards (with the help of some classmates) created a video displaying technology she was developing to be used to prevent wildfires. Her tech measures the relationship between power lines and humidity.
“What we were making would detect arcing the moment it starts with sound heat and static electricity levels,” she said. “I think it’d help prevent fires like the ones we had this past year.”
Richards made a point to thank everyone that supported her, including her high school which she says shaped her, academically and socially. If this surprise scholarship ceremony had happened freshman year, she says she would’ve cried from social anxiety. And if it weren’t for her teachers, she wouldn’t know the academic path she’d be taking right now.
“The school … now [the scholarship] … this has all helped me in so many ways.”
Samohi Principal Antonio Shelton says the feeling of appreciation is mutual.
“We’re tremendously proud,” he said. “Oh yeah. One of the best things about this is she developed something that is relevant to what’s going on in society right now. She has played a role in the future and will enact change. That’s Samohi, that’s who our kids are and how we develop young people. We’re extremely proud of her and how she has represented us.”