WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger recently announced Mills E. Godwin High School student Arvind Rajesh as the Seventh District winner of the annual Congressional App Challenge. Rajesh created an app which helps people quickly and easily access full U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) information on drugs they see advertised on TV, empowering them to make informed decisions as patients and consumers.
Rajesh’s app will be shared on the U.S. House of Representatives’ website, alongside winners from congressional districts across the country.
“The technological innovations our students develop today are the tools that will keep our country strong, safe, and secure in the years to come,” said Spanberger. “Central Virginia students are on the cutting-edge of innovations in coding and computer science, and I was so proud to see the incredible amount of creativity, talent, and technical skill represented in this year’s Congressional App Challenge submissions. I was also struck by how so many young people in our communities – including our winner, Arvind – are thinking conscientiously about how to use their abilities to address some of the complex challenges facing the Seventh District. I am encouraged by their spirit of civic engagement, and I am confident that our future lies in capable hands. Congratulations to Arvind, and thank you to all the students who shared their work with us!”
“One morning, during the COVID-19 lockdown this summer, I was watching the TV news with my family and happened to switch between channels. I noticed many drug commercials on almost all the channels. Almost all of them had the same pattern – they described the problem, introduced the drug, and listed the side effects. It made me wonder how a 30 to 60 second commercial can introduce a drug,” said Rajesh. “When I looked it up on the internet, there were a lot of articles about direct-to-consumer (DTC) commercials, and health care providers recommended consumers do their own research. That led me in a quest to search for authentic information on all drugs, and my research took me to the FDA website and National Library of Medicine website, where they provide … an abundance of information on drugs for citizens to consume. This inspired me to develop an application for consumers to use, and be informed and educated about drugs.”
The Congressional App Challenge is an annual opportunity for young people in participating congressional districts across the country to get hands-on practice with coding and computer science. Students are invited to sharpen their skills, push their creativity in STEM disciplines, and begin envisioning their future career, with an emphasis on including and inspiring students from communities that are underrepresented in the tech industry.
Spanberger is a cosponsor of the 21st Century STEM for Girls and Underrepresented Minorities Act. The bill seeks to address the underrepresentation of women and minorities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics by engaging girls and minority students with enhanced STEM learning programs. The legislation would direct the U.S. Department of Education to provide grants to local schools to support hands-on learning, mentorship, and expanded opportunity for all children.