Tiffany Tieu Ngo was a valedictorian for the L’Anse Creuse High School — North Class of 2015. She is very bright, friendly and driven; the perfect combination for success. Everyone knew she was sure to do big things.
This past December, she did just that.
Tiffany explained that she had a very positive experience at L’Anse Creuse and that she credits two teachers for helping her become the person she is today. The first teacher makes sense, considering that she is studying biochemistry at the University of Detroit Mercy. Tiffany explained that it was Ms. Sara Strozewski’s AP Chemistry class that sparked something in her. She explained, “Ms. Strozewski helped cultivate my love for science. Chemistry just spoke to me.”
Then there is the less obvious but equally impactful teacher, English and Performing Arts teacher Mr. Kirk Erikson.Tiffany explained that she found her voice and courage in his class, “When I got into the acting program it was a big leap of faith for me. I had never been on stage and I was always the shy person in middle school.” She continued, “Being on stage and putting myself out there, really helped me to [take this trip].”
The trip Tiffany is referring to is not just a vacation to a new place. It was her first time out of the country and she went without any family or friends. Tiffany was one of nearly 23,000 people from all over the world who attended the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, more affectionately referred to as COP24. The two-week conference was hosted this past December in Katowice, Poland, about 200 miles south of Warsaw.
Though there were thousands of delegates, scientists, business leaders, observers and journalists at the conference, it was not open for just anyone to attend. Tiffany went through a lengthy application process to become one of five students representing the American Chemical Society. The students attended the event with two COP veterans, Dr. Keith Peterman and Dr. Gregory Foy, professors at York College of Pennsylvania.
Tiffany explained how she spent her week at COP24, detailing some of the sessions she attended and all that she learned. She explained that the sessions were in different formats, including lectures, panels and workshops, and that the spoken language was English, so many individuals were wearing headsets to hear the appropriate translations.
Highlighting her favorites Tiffany explained, “I saw Al Gore speak about the climate crisis and what we have to do about it. That was really fun!” The other session she really enjoyed was a panel discussion on how the fashion industry is doing their part to reduce their carbon footprint with a goal of becoming climate neutral by 2050.
At the end of the conference the delegates come together in a session called the plenaries. This is where all the big decisions are made. Tiffany and her colleagues made several attempts to attend; however, getting everyone to agree is not always easy and the session was pushed back several times. The next day, when the delegates finally came together, the important decisions were made and those who attended the conference would call it a success; COP24 introduced the Katowice Rulebook, which will guide countries in their efforts to uphold the Paris Agreement in aspects of finance, transparency and adaptation.
While Tiffany was there for business, she also had the opportunity to be a bit of a tourist, visiting Warsaw, taking in the culture, appreciating the architecture, meeting the locals and loving the food. She even picked up a bit of the language, learning the phrases dzień dobry (good morning) and dziękuję ci (thank you).
Looking back Tiffany spoke fondly, “There were people of so many different ethnicities that attended. The scope of the conference was just amazing.” You can see the sense of pride she has after being a part of COP24, an experience that gave her a stronger global perspective and a sense of accomplishment.
As for her career plans, Tiffany knows that she wants to be in the lab - hopefully managing that lab. She has not yet narrowed down her exact field but she is leaning toward cosmetic chemistry, pharmaceuticals or maybe even the Environmental Protection Agency.
Tiffany will continue to be an advocate for what she believes in and she suggests that others find what they are passionate about and do the same. She hopes that she will be able to attend another COP in the future.
We will be sure to keep in touch with Tiffany as we know she will continue to do big things.
L’Anse Creuse High School - North is located in Macomb Township.