Alexis Bergman didn't take it seriously when a letter arrived announcing her selection as a delegate for the Congress of Future Science and Technology Leaders.
But some online research convinced her that the academic honors program was "maybe a little bigger than I thought," she said.
Now the Quincy High School senior is packing her bags for a trip later this month to the University of Massachusetts campus in Lowell and the event designed to provide high-achieving high school students with resources, direction, self-confidence and guidance into STEM — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — careers.
The National Academy of Future Scientists and Technologists sponsors the congress to bring delegates face-to-face with Nobel Prize winners, award-winning young inventors and scientists and Ivy League academic directors.
"The funny thing is I've usually been more of the English, reading and history person, but I have always been interested in science," Alexis said. "My grandfather, Dr. William Gasser, taught chemistry at Quincy University."
Alexis said she looks forward to hearing the mentors featured at the congress — including Neil Gershenfeld, director of MIT's Center for Bits and Atoms; IBM's Watson Chief Mike Rhodin and Siri co-founder Adam Cheyer — and drawing on their advice and leadership skills.
"I can't believe I get to meet these people, get to talk to them, learn from them," Alexis said. "These are very successful people who were able to use education to achieve what they have. I hope that I can learn from them what to do in my own education."
After the congress with its theme of Greatness Awaits, delegates enter a free program that provides mentorship, resources, direction and a network of connections to achieve their dreams. "That's something I hope is as good as it sounds," Alexis said. "Any way you can broaden your horizons would help out with the future."
Making connections and building friendships with other delegates also could help in the future.
"I'll be taking notes, jotting down phone numbers," she said. "I'm looking into special education, possibly going further and getting a Ph.D. in teaching or maybe psychology."
Alexis, 16, is the daughter of Scott and Maria Bergman. She is a member of the QHS Beta Club, president of the Teen Advisory Board at the Quincy Public Library and has a part-time job.