December 17, 2019

Luján Announces Congressional App Challenge Winners

Washington, D.C. –  Today, Congressman Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), the U.S. House Assistant Speaker, announced that Diana Vasquez, Ytzel Romo-Olivas, and Ruth Calija, all students from across New Mexico’s Third Congressional District, are the winners of the 2019 Congressional App Challenge.

Vasquez, Romo-Olivas, and Calija’s app, “Kids Against Racism (K.A.R.)” helps inform people about the adverse effects of racism in their communities, suggestions on how to combat racism, and resources where individuals can seek help. The app includes personal stories from individuals who have experienced racism and provides resources for support groups.  

“I am thrilled to announce the winners of the 2019 Congressional App Challenge – three young students who put their STEM knowledge to use to combat racism in our communities. Not only did these students exercise great creativity, they did so with an eye toward social justice and eradicating disparities that exist for communities of color,” said Luján. “I am proud that these students’ hard work will reflect New Mexico values, and I look forward to seeing what all of this year’s participants accomplish in STEM education." 

Calija attends Mandela International Magnet School, Vazquez attends Mandela International Magnet School, and Romo-Olivas attends Santa Fe High School.

Photo for use is available here

Luján also announced the second and third place winners in the Congressional App Challenge competition:

  • Second Place: Santa Fe Indian High School students Marrissa DeAguero, Jazlynn Martinez, Tayler Martinez, and Alyssa Aguila. Their app, “Tiny Learners,” is an educational learning app designed for toddlers or small children that provides an interactive learning process that teaches young children how to count from 1-10 and learn the alphabet; 
  • Third Place: Junior High students Eliana Lovato, Vinaya Kurapati, who both attend school at the Academy of Technology and the Classics, and Ruby Sallah, who attends the Santa Fe Girls’ School, participated in a STEM summer coding camp organized by STEM Santa Fe, created an app called “Grow your Smile,” an app designed to help adults stay healthy by providing healthy eating tips and exercise plans that help them improve their health.   

The Congressional App Challenge is an app creation competition for students of middle and high school age. Student apps were judged on the quality of their ideas, including creativity and originality. Students were encouraged to participate in STEM and computer science events throughout the year, including coding boot camps organized by STEM Santa Fe, a local nonprofit.

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