This summer, Jerod Fisher will have the chance to rub shoulders with past, present and future leaders in science and technology.
Perhaps just as important, they will have a chance to rub shoulders with him.
Fisher is a rising senior at Cuthbertson High School with a 4.5 GPA and a knack for chemistry, engineering and technology. As he wrapped up his junior year, he learned he had been selected to attend the 2015 Congress of Future Science and Technology Leaders in Boston June 28 through 30. A news release from the National Academy of Future Scientists and Technologists said he was nominated by astronaut Buzz Aldrin, who is a director of the academy.
So, one of my first questions to him was, how did he land a nomination from Buzz Aldrin?
He said Aldrin is one of the founders of the organization and that names of candidates who’ve met all the qualifications are sent to him and a board, and then from there, they choose who to accept.
So, passing the board’s high standards earned him a nomination from the second man to walk on the moon.
Fisher said he originally learned of the program through a letter inviting him to apply. He and other high school students frequently get letters like that, but what saved this one from the trash was an impressive seal and Buzz Aldrin’s signature. Right away he began to investigate the program and quickly decided it would be a great opportunity.
The congress will give him a chance to join similarly talented high school students from across the country to hear Nobel Laureates and National Medal of Science winners talk about leading scientific research, according to the news release.
Fisher said he’s always been interested in how things work, and even took apart his old gaming console to explore its inner workings.
His love of science blossomed in middle school, when he started chemistry and physics, he said.
“The stuff that kind of fascinated me was stars, molecules and how everything’s put together,” he said.
He credits Cuthbertson chemistry teacher Vincent Palmer Jr. for fueling his love of chemistry, and said he’s looking forward to taking an AP chemistry class with Palmer next year.
About a year ago, he started to build a nuclear fusion reactor “just like a demonstration model,” he said. He was unable to complete it, because some of the supplies were hard to get.
One of his inspirations is the popular physicist Michio Kaku, who, as a high school student, built a particle accelerator with 22 miles of copper wire looped around a football field.
“He’s one of my favorite physicists,” Fisher said.
Fisher’s parents, Gina and John Fisher, said their son is gifted at finding answers to anything he’s curious about – whether it’s chemistry, engineering or playing the guitar.
“He’s always been one who, if it’s something God puts on his heart, he’s going to do it,” John Fisher said. “For instance, playing guitar. He’s never really had any lessons. It’s more going on YouTube and watching. Teach yourself. He’s really gotten good at that, and that’s the way he tackles a lot of things. He makes up his mind he wants to do it, and he just goes after it.”
Gina Fisher said she came home from work one day and heard a guitar playing upstairs. She called out to Jerod, asking him where the guitar music was coming from.
“He said, ‘It’s me.’ I said, ‘That’s you playing? How’d you learn that?’ He said, ‘On YouTube.’”
He also plays the drums and ukulele, putting his musical skills to work in a band with friends. He enjoys playing video games and pick-up games of basketball, and likes his part-time job working at Showmars in Fort Mill.
Fisher’s future plans will involve engineering. His first choice for college right now is Clemson, he said.
But he recognizes that his experience at this month’s congress could change his mind.
“Hopefully, it will give me … a more defined path of what I want to do in the future,” he said.
Jane Duckwall is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Jane? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.