TMSA Middle Schooler Is 2021 National Honoree

TMSA Cary Middle Schooler Is One of America’s Top 10 Youth Volunteers of 2021
Posted on 05/06/2021
michael small

Cary, NC - Michael Chen from Triangle Math and Science Academy was named as one of America’s top ten youth volunteers of 2021 by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards. Selected from a field of more than 21,000 youth volunteers from across the country, TMSA Cary 7th Grader has earned the title of National Honoree.

“I'm honored to be recognized alongside these amazing individuals,” said 13-year-old Michael, who is a straight-A and honor roll student. He hopes “that together we can inspire more students to actively be part of their community.”

"I cannot be happier and prouder,” said TMSA Public Charter School Superintendent Ben Karaduman. “Michael’s recent achievement is a great example of TMSA’s commitment to service."

Michael was recognized for his work in 3D printing and donating of 580 mask buckles to health care and essential workers early on in the pandemic in order to ease the discomfort caused by wearing face masks for extended periods.

“The most difficult part,” Michael said about his project, “was filling a request for 250 buckles just as the printer broke down.” Luckily, he had two neighbors who offered the services of their own 3D printers to help fill the order, often printing all through the night.

He will receive a scholarship of $5,000, an engraved gold medallion, a crystal trophy for TMSA Cary, and a $5,000 grant from The Prudential Foundation towards a nonprofit organization of their choice.

“Michael has chosen to donate the money to Kramden Institute,” said Suzy Wang – a proud mother of three. Kramden refurbishes and donates computers to schools in need.

“Kramden holds a special place in his heart,” said Mrs. Wang. “They allowed Michael to take high school level classes at the age of 9.” He is now looking forward to volunteering at Kramden once it is allowed.

Michael, a Mathlete, has not decided on his future career yet. “I am definitely interested in the STEM field,” he said.

“We are grateful to the staff and administration of TMSA for creating an environment of support where Michael can thrive,” said Mrs. Wang. Michael will have completed four years of high school math before even entering high school.

TMSA Cary enjoys a strong academic reputation. It is one of the top-performing high schools in North Carolina with “A” school performance grade since the state started to report school performance grades in 2013-2014. Triangle is also recognized by Niche as a top charter high school in the state, coming in at 10th place on the 2020 and 2021 lists.

The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, sponsored by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), honors students in grades 5-12 for making meaningful contributions to their communities through volunteer service.