Mt. Lassen Charter School student recognized by Congress at the 2023 Gold Medal Summit

Gold Medalists, parents and guests, Congressional Award Board Members, Members of Congress, speakers from NASA, the U.S. Vice President’s office and Ferring Pharmaceuticals gather for celebratory dinner in the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center. Photo submitted

Last week, local Mt. Lassen Charter School student Elise Giles was recognized in Washington D.C. at the U.S. Capitol for her achievements in voluntary public service, personal development, physical fitness and expedition/exploration during the 2023 Congressional Award Gold Medal Summit. Giles also earned a STEM Star in conjunction with their Gold Medal.

“In earning my Congressional Award Gold Medal, I enjoyed the process of getting to know my community and growing deeper roots here by serving at the HOPE Food Pantry, playing piano at Eagle Lake Village, and interning at the Farmer’s Market,” Giles said.  “I also advanced in piano by taking part in master classes, and piano competitions throughout Northern California and Nevada, and pushed myself to expand in fitness by taking part in the Courage Triathlon at Lake Almanor.  I planned a six-day expedition and faced many challenges along the way to achieving my goals.  I am so excited to be representing California’s First Congressional District in Washington DC this summer where I’ll receive a gold medal.”

The 2023 Gold Medal Summit, hosted by The Congressional Award Foundation, was held in Washington, D.C. from June 20 to June 22, 2023. This prestigious event brought together exceptional young individuals who had earned the esteemed Congressional Award Gold Medal, showcasing their outstanding accomplishments and commitment to community service.

The Congressional Award is the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. Congress upon youth, recognizing the remarkable initiative, service, and achievement demonstrated by these exceptional medalists. As the first in-person Gold Medal celebration since 2019, The 2023 Gold Medal Summit served as a platform to celebrate their efforts and inspire the next generation of leaders.

During the event, Gold Medalists had the unique opportunity to meet and engage with Members of Congress, fostering a deeper understanding and connection between these exceptional youth leaders and their elected representatives. Over 100 individual meetings with members of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate took place, providing a platform for meaningful dialogue and enabling participants to discuss important issues and share their personal experiences.

A notable highlight of the Summit was the lineup of dynamic panel discussions on key topics. In collaboration with the Congressional Award’s STEM Stars initiative partner, Ferring Pharmaceuticals, the “STEM Education” panel focused on promoting science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education. The “Service and Advocacy” panel highlighted the significance of community service and advocacy efforts in driving positive change. The “Women Empowerment” panel explored the role of women leaders in society and emphasized the importance of gender equality. Lastly, the “Pathway to Career” panel provided insights and guidance on building successful careers and pursuing meaningful professional pathways.

In addition to the engaging panel discussions, the Gold Medalists had the privilege of networking with distinguished board members and industry leaders who shared their passion for community service and personal development. These connections sparked valuable insights and inspired participants to further their own initiatives.

“The 2023 Gold Medal Summit was an incredible celebration of the exceptional achievements of our Congressional Award Gold Medalists from across the country,” said Paxton Baker, Chairman of the Board of Directors at The Congressional Award. “We witnessed firsthand the transformative power of youth leadership and their commitment to making a positive difference in society. The Summit provided a platform for recognition, inspiration, and networking that will propel these young leaders to even greater heights.”

About The Congressional Award
The Congressional Award is the United States Congress’ only charity and the highest honor bestowed upon a youth civilian through the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Established by Congress as a public-private partnership in 1979 under Public Law 96- 114, the program recognizes initiative, service, and achievement in youth ages 13 1⁄2 to 23. To learn more about The Congressional Award visit