Hahnville student puts pen to paper at STEM signing day

Torian Lay wasn’t quite sure what to expect when he arrived at his signing ceremony – while February has long been kicked off by nationwide collegiate signings for prep athletes, March started with a similar, yet very different kind of event in Metairie.

Lay represented Hahnville High School as one of six local students selected as a STEM Signing Day honoree. The day saw each student put pen to paper and sign a letter of intent to pursue a STEM degree at their chosen college or technical program, similar to top high school athletes committing to a college on National Signing Day.

It was part of STEM Fest, hosted jointly by the New Orleans Pelicans and Chevron at Ochsner Sports Complex. Approximately 2,000 students engaged in hands-on learning and interactive demonstrations focused on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). The event featured robotics, video game coding, virtual reality, live performances, and Saints and Pelicans activities.

The event has been ongoing since 2017 – this was Lay’s first experience with it. He will be attending McNeese State following his graduation from HHS in the spring and he plans to study biology pre-med, with aspirations of becoming a pediatrician in the future.

Lay was chosen following his coursework through Project Lead the Way, which offered a program for students that encourages each to take a deeper dive into a field that interests them. Lay signed up for a class focused on biological science.

“We talked about forensics … we had to take a case, determine how the person died, go through all of the evidence, use a lie detector test, graphs, charts … all to figure out what happened to her,” Lay said.

Lay said the course was interesting for him. He knew for quite some time that he wanted to go into the medical field one day for his profession but wasn’t quite sure what area.

“It was a different side of something I’d like to do,” Lay said.

He proved dedicated to it as well – so much so that when it came time to choose a representative for the school for the STEM Fest event, he became a natural choice.

When he arrived at the event, he found there was even more to learn.

“The speakers did a great job of illustrating how important science is not just in any one field, but anywhere, and just how you can apply it in so many different areas,” Lay said. “(A Pelicans representative) told us how he uses science every day … if they’re playing the Houston Rockets, for example, he can break it down to see that a player’s 3-point percentage is higher at one spot on the floor, and force them away from that … you kind of learn that deepening your involvement in any science can really extend the potential in what you’re doing.”

Those real-world applications spoke to Lay.

“It just makes you realize that having a science background gives you an edge … just hearing how it can affect your standing in day-to-day life really stood out,” he said. “And having diverse knowledge can only extend your options. Like I said, I want to go into pediatrics, but forensics was also very interesting.”

For now, though, his heart remains with Plan A – along his high school journey, he’s found his desire is to help others through medicine.

His work ethic and drive appear to have him on track to do just that.


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