By BILL BUELL
NISKAYUNA — Meghan Stevenson has an interest in history, but her passion is science.
Winner of the countywide Schenectady Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution Essay Writing Contest, Stevenson, a Niskayuna High senior and a Rexford native, says 10th-grade biology and physics this year have confirmed her love for the sciences. But she does find history inspirational as well, particularly recent history.
“I really enjoy looking at the 1960s,” said Stevenson, who hopes to attend either Penn State University or Brigham Young University next year. “I’m really fascinated by people who are willing to put themselves out there and stand up for what they believe. They changed the country for the better.”
Each school within Schenectady County was allowed to nominate its own candidate for the DAR award. Along with Niskayuna, other districts selecting high school seniors for the competition were Schenectady (Ravendra Dhanraj), Scotia-Glenville (Justin Phillips), Mohonasen (Mia DeMarco), Duanesburg (Maeve McKeeby) and Notre-Dame Bishop Gibbons (Joseph Malinowski). Those winners, who submitted a resume-like paper and answered a few short essay questions, then competed against the other school representatives to see who could write the best long essay to the question “What does our past tell us about our future?”
“They gave us two hours to answer the question, so you sit there while you’re being monitored and write an essay on your laptop, without using the Internet,” said Stevenson, who earned a check for $250 from the local DAR chapter for her victory. “I talked about how our country is based on the freedom of speech, and how that’s important because it’s the masses who are deciding in which direction we should go. That’s how our country was founded, and that’s also the best way to go forward into the future.”
Stevenson said winning the award came as a complete surprise to her.
“I had actually filled out a college application and put down that it was a schoolwide award because I really didn’t think I was going to win,” she said.
“It was the counseling center at Niskayuna that got me involved, and I was thinking more about the leadership aspect. I thought it would be a good opportunity to represent my school.”
Along with her love of the sciences, Stevenson plays the flute in the school band, also plays the piano, and has been her class secretary for four years in a row.
“A lot of what I do is just try to get more kids involved in their class,” Stevenson said of her role as secretary. “It’s an uphill battle, but sometimes in their senior year they’ll get a little sentimental, and you can work on that a little bit. That helps get them involved.”
Stevenson is also a member of the Niskayuna High Recycling Club.
“Every Friday we go into all the classrooms and empty out the recycling bins,” said Stevenson. “The ones we don’t get money for we put in a special container and take it to the recycling plant, and the ones we do get money for we hand in and at the end of the year take the cash and do something for the school with it.”
Stevenson doesn’t play on any of the Silver Warriors’ sports teams, but she does occasionally write for the school newspaper. “I prefer to do opinion pieces, but if they need a few random articles written I’ll do that,” she said.
The essay Stevenson wrote will now be submitted to the DAR statewide event. She and the other five students named to represent their schools were honored at the Dec. 6 DAR Good Citizen Tea at the Stockade Inn.