Seaford's Emily Richardson receives renowned Rensselaer Medal


Emily Richardson, a junior at Seaford High School, has been awarded the prestigious Rensselaer Medal, which is presented to outstanding math and science students.

Richardson was announced as a recipient of the award in April from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, a private research university in Troy, New York. Also known as RPI, it is one of the oldest universities in the country, celebrating its 200th anniversary this year. The campus focuses on advancing research in fields such as biotechnology, computational science, engineering and environment.

For Richardson, being selected for the medal was an extremely exciting moment.  

“I visited RPI, and I loved it there,” Richardson said. “The opportunities they offer are very exciting, so I was happy to see that I had this award because it made it more reachable for me to go there.”

According to the campus website, the Rensselaer Medal is one of its premier merit scholarships for students. The value of the scholarship is $40,000 per year and is guaranteed for four years for each medalist who is accepted and enrolls at Rensselaer. The award, which amounts to $160,000 over the four years, has been awarded to secondary school students for more than a century.

Richardson said RPI was one of the colleges in which she was looking to enroll and saw information about the award on its website. During a college fair at her high school in March, Richardson said she discussed the medal with an admissions representative from RPI, who directed her to speak to her guidance counselor about it.

Students cannot apply for the scholarship, but must be nominated by their high school in the spring of their junior year, according to the RPI website.

“Emily really checked every single box that was the requirements for this RPI medal, so she was a perfect fit,” Jennifer Pimentel, Richardson’s guidance counselor, said. “I nominated her and RPI selected her. We were really, really excited and really proud of her for winning this award.”

According to Pimentel, students must meet several requirements to be a recipient of the award. They must be in the top 10 percent of their class, excel in math and science courses, demonstrate success in a rigorous course load, and be involved in extracurricular activities.

In her sophomore year, Richardson was in honors classes for chemistry and algebra. She will finish her junior year taking Advanced Placement courses in chemistry, stats and pre-calculus. For her senior year, Richardson said she plans to take AP Physics and AP Calculus BC.

As for extracurricular activities, Richardson participates in student council and is a member of Books and Bagels, a book-reading club that meets in the mornings.

Richardson said she has always taken an interest in math, science and engineering. When she was growing up, she would play with Lego sets, and math always came easy to her, she added. For her AP research class, Richardson said she had to pick a topic that interested her, namely roller coasters.

“Since I know that I want to do engineering, I picked to look at the design and safety features of roller coasters and how they work and how that influences a person,” Richardson said. “That was really interesting to see, how the features kind of connect to everything.”

Richardson said she plans to enroll at RPI to study mechanical engineering after she graduates high school. She has yet to apply at RPI, but Pimentel said that once she is admitted, she would receive the scholarship from her award.

Since Richardson set foot at Seaford High School, Pimentel said, she has worked hard for her accomplishments. Her guidance counselor added that Richardson’s dedication, preparation and determination has been her pathway to success, saying that she is looking forward to what’s in store for Richardson when she applies for colleges next school year.

“She's a top-notch student here at Seaford High School,” Pimentel said, “so she's really one of our best.”