OSSM experience helps students ‘get to the better version’ of themselves
By Scott Meacham
Students who attend the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics (OSSM) are inspiring human beings. Their academic rigor alone inspires, as does their record of college admissions. They all — 100 percent — go on to college or university.
David Reynaldo Fuentez is an OSSM senior. Rey, as his teachers and friends call him, has been awarded a full academic scholarship to Bowdoin College.
“One of the things my dad taught me,” Rey said, “if you want to achieve great things, you have to be willing to do great things. Coming to OSSM was a massive step for the goals I have in the future. I just knew this was a step I had to take.”
Rey plans to major in economics with an engineering approach. “My main goal is to work toward an MBA.,” he said. “I want to start my own company. One of the things I love most about anything I do is people. I want a career that unites people together. At OSSM we have people becoming doctors and engineers. I want to be the bridge between people and the sciences.”
From listening to OSSM students like Rey over the years, I have learned to trust what they say. Rey has a vision for what he is going to do. He might not yet know the specific product or service he wants to create, but OSSM teaches students how to imagine a big picture and then figure out the details. And not all OSSM lessons take place in the classroom or lab.
“Most people have the misconception that once you go to OSSM, all you are going to be doing 24 hours per day is studying,” Rey said. “After class we can be doing anything, from heads-down studying to board games in the hallway or sports in the gym. The OSSM experience is a lot more than a quality education. I don’t think I expected that.”
Volleyball is a passion of Rey’s. For his senior mentorship —the OSSM hallmark that offers qualifying OSSM seniors real-world experience with professional-level research projects directed by scientists and technologists — Rey structured a project to study the physiological and anatomical aspects of playing volleyball.
“I am short in stature and size,” he said. “I wanted to figure out the approach a person of smaller stature could take to perform better on the volleyball court.”
From his research, Rey learned even though people with more height and weight are naturally better at volleyball, the right workouts can help people of smaller stature gain an advantage
As Rey continued his mentorship and research, the outcome of his project changed.
“At first it was solely that I was interested in the topic,” he said. “Then I presented with passion and my research was transformed into being an inspiration. My conclusion was that stature doesn’t have to stop a person from achieving great things or from taking part in something they see as fun.”
When asked what he would tell prospective students about attending OSSM, Rey said: “You can do it. Anyone who aspires to go to OSSM can do it by deciding in your head: I want to get to the better version of myself. That is the key aspect to apply and graduate from OSSM. Everyone here is constantly learning. That process isn’t individual. Sure, you can do it individually and study on your own, but that is not the only way to get there. OSSM is not a solo path.”
OSSM is accessible. This school is one of the finest sources of STEM education in the United States. Students can attend as full-time residents or as students in regional centers or online. Do you know a student who should apply?
Scott Meacham CEO of i2E Inc., a nonprofit corporation that mentors many of the state’s technology-based startup companies. i2E receives state support from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology and is an integral part of Oklahoma’s Innovation Model. Contact Meacham at i2E_Comments@i2E.org.