|My father's ring that he resized and gave to me & I wore for the first time at the Award Ceremony|
|The wrong Academy of Sciences building|
The National Academy of Science building (on Constitution Avenue, across from the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial) is a beautiful building. There was a light breakfast available for us, and we mingled for a bit. This last day had a very "last day of summer camp" kind of feel. We had all made some great friends, and knew that this would be the last time we would all be together. Two and a half days was not nearly long enough for any of us.
|The right Academy of Sciences building|
Before the actual award ceremony we had a practice ceremony. We lined up in alphabetical order by state and were told where to walk, stand, etc.
It was a bit odd to have such a major ceremony first thing in the morning. Especially since many of us were concerned about getting back to the hotel in time to make check-out time and not be charged for an extra night. Some people even checked out and brought their luggage with them to the ceremony so they could take a taxi right to the airport afterward.
The ceremony was nice. The Undersecretary of Education talked for a bit before the award presentations. Even though Secretary of Education Arne Duncan had nothing on his public calendar, he didn't consider this important enough to attend. Unfortunately, the other speaker, acting director of the National Science Foundation Cora Marrett, got stuck in traffic and had to give her remarks after we received our awards.
|My big moment|
|Lori, Darwin, and I|
|A few of us with acting Under Secretary of Education Jamienne Studley|
Seeing the award for the first time was pretty amazing. President Barak Obama personally signed each one of them, and our names were written in calligraphy on the awards.
After the ceremony we spent a few minutes taking pictures and saying goodbyes to the other winners. Those of us taking buses back to the hotel then boarded.
We got back to the hotel in time to quickly pack up and check out on time. My mother offered to take some of our luggage in her car back home for us so that we did not have to carry it on the plane. I gave her most of our luggage (which would later come back to haunt me) and the flowers I had bought for Lori at the beginning of the trip thanking her for all of her support that allowed me to achieve this honor.
Lori and I had a nice lunch at the restaurant in the hotel before taking a taxi back to Washington Reagan National Airport.
Our flight home was pretty uneventful. We had to wait on the tarmac for a while in DC which made our connection in Philadelphia tight, but got back into Scranton on time. As we walked through the terminal in Scranton I suddenly realized that my car keys were in one of the bags that I had sent home with my mother.
Lori and I had to wait for an hour in the empty airport for my mother and sister to drive the keys to us. I showed her the meditation room in the airport while we waited. It's actually pretty cool.
|AVP Meditation Room|
On the first night of the PAEMST events we were told by the three presidents of the alumni societies that this award would change our lives. I guess we'll see...