2023 Milken ScholarsPhoto 4 of 21
Karen Garcia uses science to solve her community's most pressing problems. As the administrative lead for The Archer School for Girls' InvenTeam club, she led the development of Hydra, a rooftop sprinkler system that uses infrared cameras to extinguish embers from wildfires and any resulting hot spots. Karen managed the club's $10,000 Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam grant budget, oversaw engineering for the device and taught middle school team members how to use computer-aided design software. The project earned the attention of local and national media, including the Los Angeles Daily News, public radio station KCRW and The Weather Channel. Karen also pursued independent research into treatments for cancer, looking at signal transduction pathways as part of Archer's Research in Science program.
Karen is a QuestBridge National College Match Scholar, University of Southern California Bovard Scholar, National Hispanic Recognition Program honoree and Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship semifinalist. She received the RISE (Research in Science and Engineering) Scientific Research Award, Brown University's Pre-College Program Sibley Scholarship and the Chinese Language Association of Secondary Schools National Essay Contest Silver Award. With Archer's Ambassador Team, Karen helped low-income Spanish-speaking students and families through the independent school application process, leading tours, hosting open houses and organizing online panel discussions. As an executive board member for Hermanas Unidas, a club embracing Latinx identities at her predominantly white school, Karen led biweekly meetings, hosted Hispanic Heritage Month presentations and organized celebrations for holidays like Dia de los Muertos. She will study Mandarin in Taiwan on the U.S. Department of State's National Security Language Initiative for Youth Scholarship.
Karen earned a Bronze Community Service Award from the Artemis Center of Public Service and Social Good for joining with the Hollywood Food Coalition to combat food insecurity. One of 12 members of Archer's Honor Education Council, Karen received Archer's Arrow Award and Honestas Award for serving as a role model and exemplifying the school's values: empathy, integrity and responsibility.
Karen will study biomedical engineering at Columbia and plans a career in biomedical research or manufacturing engineering.
All photos should be credited to "Milken Family Foundation" unless otherwise noted.