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Center Brings Young Talent To Campus

Ceremony features exceptional test scorers, high achievers from Northwestern

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June 7, 2011 | by Amy Weiss

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Matt McCrory, a former DreamWorks artist and lead visualization engineer at Northwestern University's Academic & Research Technologies, was the keynote speaker at a June 4 event that honored 500 of the top scorers in Northwestern’s Midwest Academic Talent Search (NUMATS).

Northwesterns’s Center for Talent Development honored children in grades three to nine who scored exceptionally high on achievement tests, with high-achieving speakers from the Northwestern community offering inspirational words. 

The Center for Talent Development works with NUMATS participants, their parents and their teachers to develop curricular plans to meet gifted students’ needs. The center offers supplemental material, summer classes and an online community of resources for parents and teachers.

“Our ability to leverage Northwestern’s resources is really important for students,” said Rhoda Rosen, the associate director of the Center for Talent Development. ”We see it as mentoring. Exposure to Northwestern students and alums can really shift their lives.”

McCrory’s keynote speech, “Roads Not Taken,” focused on the indirect path he took from high school to his current role and how the variety of experiences led him to where he is today. 

 “My hope is that I made it clear to these students that the particular paths they take throughout their academic and professional careers are not as important as simply being passionate and hard-working in whatever paths they choose,” he said. 

Other guest speakers at the awards ceremony included Divya Narendra, the JD-MBA candidate whose role in the creation of Facebook was portrayed in the “The Social Network”; Kate McGroarty, the alum who captured Chicago’s imagination last year when she lived for a month at the Museum of Science and Industry; and Rebecca Tonietto, the Northwestern doctoral student in plant biology and conservation who studies the effects of tall grass prairie restoration on native bee communities. 

Northwestern’s Midwest Academic Talent Search gives an above grade-level test to third- to ninth-grade students who score in the 90th percentile or higher on grade-level tests in an eight-state region. Students in grades three through five are given the EXPLORE test, and the top 2 percent of NUMATS scorers are invited to the ceremony. Students in grades 6 to 9 are given the ACT or SAT and the top 1 percent of scorers is invited. 

With recent budget cuts in schools, Rosen said, parents are relying on the Center for Talent Development more than ever to provide educational support for their gifted children. 

“I believe it always has been and always will be of the utmost importance to acknowledge and reward high-achieving students, particularly at such a young age, McCrory said of the ceremony. “It was an honor for me to be included in such a significant way in what was almost certainly a big day for these students.”  

Topics: University