When Mainland High School Freshman Lacey Lovett received a letter in the mail last November, inviting her to take part in a three-day event featuring medical Nobel Prize winners, she thought it was fake.
The letter informed Lovett, of Ormond Beach that she was nominated to become a Florida delegate to the Congress of Future Medical Leaders, to be held June 26-28 at the University of Massachusetts Lowell campus. The Congress, hosted by the National Academy of Future Physicians and Medical Scientists, is an honors-only program for high school students who want to become doctors or go into medical research fields, and aims to inspire these students as well as provide plans and resources to help them achieve their goals, according to a press release. In 2023, about 5,000 students from across the U.S. gathered for the Congress.
"I was honestly really confused because I talked to a lot of my friends, and they were like, 'I didn't get this,'" Lovett said. "I don't know why I got chosen, but I feel really honored about it."
Lovett is looking to study marine biology — or cooking, she said. As she tries to figure out her path, she said it's important to focus on ones values and interests.
"I know a lot of kids that let teachers or people persuade them, or they think they can't do anything, but you really just got to look into what you're interested in and not let anyone else's opinion take that away," she said.
Her mother, Christina Hehre, said her daughter has always been focused on school and had a good relationship with teachers.
"To this day, we still don't know who nominated her, but somebody did," Hehre said. "Somebody saw her potential."
Despite being a freshman, Lovett is dual enrolling at Daytona State College thanks to the Mainland Collegiate Institute program which allows students the chance to earn their associate's degree before graduating high school.
Lovett said she's looking forward to talking with Novel Prize winners during the Congress. Her nomination was signed by molecular geneticist Dr. Mario Capecchi, co-winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize in medicine and the science director of the Academy.
"I'm just super proud of her," Hehre said. "I'm excited for her. I can't wait to see what doors this opens up for her. I can't wait to see what she does through her high school career, and I think she's going to be a force to be reckoned with."