guillermoDonna North High School Junior Guillermo Acuna is passionate about the sciences. So when he found out he was accepted by The National Academy of Future Scientists and Technologists to attend its prestigious conference, he was beyond thrilled.

“I don’t know how to explain it because nothing like this has ever happened to me,” Acuna said when asked about being invited to the Congress of Future Science and Technology Leaders conference. “It was like a new experience. I am excited. My parents are excited too.”

Acuna’s former 9th grade biology teacher Maritza Garza came across news of the upcoming conference and submitted an application on his behalf. She’s glad she did. He was chosen to represent his school and community at the conference to be held in Boston, Mass. June 29-July 1. The qualifications are rigorous. The student must maintain at least a 3.5 grade-point-average (GPA).

“I had Guillermo for my biology Pre-AP class,” Garza said. “We stayed in touch throughout the years and three years ago we had discussed his future plans. He had told me he wanted to go into a science field so when I came across this program I thought he would be the perfect person. I knew his passion for physics and his passion for everything that has to do with that so I thought this was the perfect program he needs to be in.”

According to the conference website, the Congress is an extraordinary opportunity for America’s brightest students to be recognized for their achievements and be mentored by some of the greatest minds in science and technology. The Congress will help participants envision a much bigger future than they ever dreamed and give them the knowledge and skills necessary to become the strongest possible candidate for college admissions.

img_8297One of the guest speakers is American hero and pioneer astronaut Buzz Aldrin who was the second man to walk on the moon. “I’m definitely looking forward to meeting Astronaut Buzz Aldrin,” Acuna said. “I really want to talk to the previous astronauts who were able to reach space. I want to get to know them so that I can understand the whole process of understanding space.”

Other speakers include past Nobel Prize winners in physics, recipients of the national medal of technology and innovation, recipients of the national medal of science and executives of major science and technology related corporations. “It’s important for me to attend this conference because I will get to experience the high-level knowledge from Nobel Prize scientists and engineers,” Acuna said. “I will get to have a one to one correspondence with them.”

“In addition, Guillermo will be able to interact with students his own age from all over the country who share the same goals, qualities, passion and drive for science,” Garza said.

Attending the Congress is not free. The tuition and overall trip will cost about $2,500. Acuna hopes to raise the money. He’s starting a Go Fund Me account, but so far it’s not looking promising. “I set it up already, everything is good but down here it’s really hard for people to transfer money online so I really haven’t gotten that many donations,” Acuna explained. “In the meantime, I’m researching other ways to raise money.”

Acuna and his teacher are hoping for the best.