By Maureen Murray

10 December, 2014

Claudia Krogmeier, a senior at Singapore American School, recently received the Congressional Bronze Medal Award. She was commended for “her willingness to give of herself to voluntarily help others in the community and her achievements in personal development, physical fitness and expedition.”

I had the opportunity to sit down with Claudia in Thyme Café at the American Club so that I could ask her about her four-year commitment to completing the goals set out by the Congressional Medal Committee. She is a bright, exceptionally focused young woman who shares a story about channeling her energy to maximize her high school experience. Like many truly exceptional students, she helps others along the way.

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MM: With high school students often juggling busy schedules, what makes pursuing the Congressional Medal worthwhile?

CK: The great thing about pursuing a Congressional Medal is that it gives you clear goals and parameters for how you spend time on extracurricular activities. I would have done the same activities regardless of the award but I quickly became much more focused.

For the award, you have to balance three areas—sports, service and personal growth. When I was setting my goals during freshman year, I realized that I had spent a disproportionate amount of time on volleyball.

MM: How did you learn about the Congressional Medal?

I heard about it at the end middle school. The activities that I was already pursuing came under the umbrella of the Congressional Medal and I thought that it would add structure and focus to my afterschool activities. So I met with counselors at my high school in Houston. They hadn’t heard of it but they worked with me and then when I transferred to Singapore American School, the counselors there were a big help, too.

MM: Was it difficult to make the transition to a new school with your projects?

CK: When I arrived in Singapore, I was faced with having to find a new service project—and it had to have both an organization and service component. Luckily, I quickly joined Caring For Cambodia at school. One of the highlights has been traveling to Cambodia (CFC) to work with kids at their schools. I’m also a correspondent for the CFC blog, offering a student volunteer point of view. I’ve become more and more involved with the organization: this year, I’m an officer and I hope to set up a CFC service club at whatever university I attend.

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MM: What did you do to complete the personal development part of the Congressional Medal?

CK: Because sports and service are so time consuming for me during the school year, I worked on my personal development during the summers. I decided to focus on marketing and advertising. A family friend, Denise Palladino, has a small company called “Chic Stash” where she resells luxury fashion items in Singapore. So after sophomore year, I helped with pickups and deliveries, events and social media.

The summer after junior year, I interned at CPM marketing company where I learned more about the nitty gritty of telemarketing. I concentrated on competitor analysis research. You quickly learn that a career in marketing and communications is a lot more than attending events! I gained a better perspective on what it takes to pursue the career that I’ve had in mind for years.

MM: Any advice for students interested in pursuing this medal?

CK: This medal encourages any student to participate—in that way it’s not like the National Merit Scholarship. It’s a lot of work but organizing your extracurricular activities according to the Congressional Medal parameters can create balance for you in high school. I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to have this focus for the past four years.

I’m also grateful to teachers, counselors, friends and the CFC community for helping me along the way. And the Congressional Medal representatives! Pursuing the Medal has pushed me to go after experiences that I’m interested in and to be my own advocate. I know these are important life tools to be successful. 

Maureen Murray is the editor of Singapore American Newspaper.