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MCS student one of 24 selected worldwide for Yosemite trip

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MASSENA - A Massena Central High School teen was one of 24 students worldwide chosen for an all expense paid trip to Yosemite National Park this summer.

Ethan O’Leary, 17, recently earned a Nature Bridge Alcoa Scholarship and as a result will be traveling to California from Aug. 3 to Aug. 15.

The trip will be a science-based backpacking journey involving plenty of in the field experience for the group.

“I applied because I thought it would be an interesting situation. Not a lot of people get to experience seeing something like Yosemite that the country has preserved for all of these years,” Ethan said. “We will be doing some sort of research for stuff that they’ve brought into the f area and looking at how they can repopulate the extinct things at Yosemite.”

The trip will also include a visit to a United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) world heritage site for a hands-on learning experience.

When she heard that her son was planning on applying for the ultra exclusive program, Stacy Dailey admitted that she was unsure if he would be accepted.

“I didn’t think he had any chance. I knew it was worldwide and they only accept 24 students worldwide. I knew the odds were against him, but I was fully behind him for applying,” Ms. Dailey said. “I can speak for myself and my entire family that we are so proud that he was accepted and this is just the beginning of what he is going to accomplish in his life.”

According to the program’s website, students will take part in the backpacking trip through Yosemite’s Cathedral Range before returning to the park’s home base at Crane Flat.

Ethan applied for the program earlier this year and found out that he was accepted last week. He said that for as long as he can remember, science has always been his favorite subject.

“I can vividly remember when I was younger and I was telling my mother that I wanted to help people and being a doctor would be such an interesting situation,” Ethan said. “I was quite flabbergasted that I was accepted. The odds were stacked against me. Me being the one person against the entire world, it was a long shot.”

The junior also said that he is not aware of any other students in Northern New York area selected for the adventure.

Ms. Dailey has also noticed her son’s passion for science since he was in elementary school.

“Ethan is really interested in science. He always has had good marks in it, and he’s looking to go to college to become a doctor or something in the medical field,” she said. “(The program) was right up his alley.”

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