Bishop Guertin student to be honored in D.C.

NASHUA – Meera Kurup has developed an app where loved ones can read poetry to Alzheimer’s patients; she founded CodeIT Girls, a successful program to help young girls get involved in technology; she can build robots and is the New Hampshire Technology Student Association treasurer and chapter president. And she’s only 16 years old.

With all this under her belt, it may be no surprise that Kurup, a junior at Bishop Guertin High School was one of only two students in New Hampshire to be selected to participate in the U.S. Senate Youth Program.

Kurup, along with Cameron Magner from Plaistow, will join Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and Sen. Margaret Hassan in Washington, D.C., for a week in March.

In this competitive merit-based program, Kurup was “selected from among the state’s top student leaders to be part of the 104 national student delegation who also will each receive a $10,000 college scholarship for undergraduate study,” according to a press release from USSYP.

“The overall mission of the program is to help instill within each class of USSYP student delegates more profound knowledge of the American political process and a lifelong commitment to public service,” the press release said.

Kurup also won the 14-week-long Congressional App Challenge for her app, ALZPoetry, for which she will go to Washington again in April.

ALZPoetry, Kurup said, stemmed from working with Alzheimer’s patients at the senior center.

“When we shared poetry, a lot of times, memories came back. It gave them a lot of happiness,” she said, adding that sometimes the patients would recite the poems with her.

Her work volunteering and staying active in extra curriculars keeps her busy, but she said she is “thankful” for the patients she has met at the senior center.

“They are so kind to me,” she said. “Volunteering has really impacted me.”

She had been working on the app for a while, and when the competition came around, she said she thought it would be a good way to get some outside response.

She called the app a “work in progress.”

So far, users can record themselves reading a series of pre-set poems for the patients to listen to. Soon, she would like to incorporate a visual component where the patients can see the reader, and she would also like to add the ability for people to enter their own poems.

Kurup herself is an avid reader of poetry, calling it one of her passions. She’s a big fan of Robert Frost, she said, because of the descriptive imagery and how much it reminds her of New Hampshire.

While she has been reading poetry since she was a little girl, it wasn’t until middle school at the Academy of Science and Design that she really discovered a love of technology.

After developing an interest in computing, she began to teach herself how to code. Now, she takes AP computer science and hopes to study technology and business when she gets to college.

“It’s extremely important for girls to get involved (in science and technology), because they aren’t as well represented and a lot of girls are scared to try it,” she said.

This gender gap is part of what encouraged her to start CodeIT girls after she won a regional competition though the National Center for Women and Information Technology.

CodeIT Girls meets every Tuesday at Reeds Ferry School, and there, Kurup teaches around 10 young girls how to code in a way that’s fun and understandable.

Next season, she would like to try to expand the program to other elementary schools.

For now though, Kurup, who just finished exams, is looking forward to her trip to the U.S. capital, particularly the opportunity to meet a Supreme Court Justice.

“The entire experience is going to be amazing,” she said.

Hannah LaClaire can be reached at 594-1243 or hlaclaire@nashuatelegraph.com