The New York Hall of Science was one of 10 winners of the 2015 National Medal for Museum and Library Service, the nation’s highest honor for libraries and museums that are serving their communities in exceptional ways. Community member Maria Cortes Ruiz traveled with President and CEO Margaret Honey to Washington D.C., in May to accept the award.

Since Maria Cortes Ruiz was a little girl, her father always encouraged her to ask questions and to be curious about the world.  This inspired her to pursue her interests in science. In 2012, Maria Cortes Ruiz moved to the United States from Bogota, Colombia, and began working at the New York Hall of Science as part of the Science Career Ladder program. She knew that in order to be successful in the program; she would have to improve her English. The program allowed her to engage with museum visitors, conduct science demonstrations for large audiences, and lead special maker activities for visitors. After a few weeks, her interactions with museum guests tremendously improved her English language skills. She is now a Design Lab Resident, leading workshops, researching background material for educational projects, and prototyping hands-on activities for museum visitors. Maria currently attends City College of New York, studying chemical engineering.

Maria says, “The support and the opportunities I’ve received working at NYSCI have made my migration to America smoother and more comfortable. [It] helped me expand my network and reinforced my decision to become a chemical engineer.”

IMLS is now accepting nominations for the 2016 National Medal for Museum and Library Service. Nomination forms are due October 1, 2015.

National Medal for Museum and Library Service