Isabelle Rome ’21 was awarded the bronze medal Congressional Award, the United States Congress’ award for young Americans, by setting goals in four program areas: voluntary public service, personal development, physical fitness, and expedition/exploration. To earn the bronze medal, Rome clocked 100 hours of voluntary service, 50 hours of personal development, 50 hours of physical fitness, and a trip to Dubai as her exploration.
Rome worked with her advisor Juan Martinez, who acted as Rome’s validator throughout the course of the program to ensure that she was meeting the goals she set for herself. For her volunteer service, over the past five summers, Rome worked at Horizons at Ethel Walker School, a non-profit that tutors inner-city girls, an organization that is close to her heart. “This is something that is really special to me. The bonds that I’ve had with the girls there go beyond volunteer work. I’m really, really close with all of the girls there. I’ve brought my friends to do it with me. It’s something that I’m very passionate about, and I hope to do this in the future,” Rome said. She is interested in pursuing a career in philanthropy and wants to focus her energy on female empowerment and education.
Rome interned for an education company that creates online worksheets and tools for teachers as her personal development goal. Marrying her love of Mandarin with her goal-setting, she developed a new Chinese curriculum of worksheets by working with a team of designers and education specialists at education.com. “Chinese is something that I’m really passionate about. Not only did this internship give me an opportunity to use my Chinese, but it also gave me the chance to build my soft skills like leadership,” she said.
An avid athlete playing on both the varsity field hockey and tennis at KO since her freshman year, Rome easily reached her physical fitness goals. However, earning her 'exploration' area proved trickier. Initially, Rome thought she would be able to use her trip to Chile as her exploration, but that trip occurred prior to her registration for the Congressional Award. Taking advantage of her father’s business trip to Greece, Rome planned and researched the family trip to Dubai since they were already in the Mediterranean. “Dubai is everything you could ever imagine. Everything is a ‘thing’ there. They have the world’s tallest building. They have all this nightlife and at the same time, they have a strict Muslim culture and restrictions. It’s very interesting.” Rome’s family indoor skied at the world-famous indoor ski resort replete with giant plastic ski balls and penguins. Rome noted the jarring yet comical sight of a Cheesecake Factory next to the ski slope. Following the trip, Rome provided an in-depth report of the trip detailing the cultural experience with commentary and pictures for the award.
“I encourage anyone to do the Congressional Award program. If you are already a person who has a lot of passions and extracurriculars, it’s a way to recognize all of those things in yourself. In terms of extra work, you are really setting the goals and doing the work that you would ordinarily do. It’s a really great way to be a part of something that everyone else in the country my age is doing,” she said.