Sofia Miera, a senior at San Marino High School, has earned the Congressional Gold Medal from United States Congresswoman Judy Chu and will receive her honor at a ceremony in Washington, DC on June 21, the day after her 18th birthday. Miera will be one of almost 400 young people to receive the Congressional Gold Medal.
Sofia was awarded the Bronze and Silver Medals in February by Chu at the Congresswoman’s regional office in Pasadena.
The Congressional Award, the United States Congress’s award for young Americans, was established in 1979 to recognize initiative, service, and achievement among the nation’s youth. There are six levels of advancement and participants can earn bronze, silver, and gold certificates and bronze, silver, and gold medals. Each level involves setting goals in the four program areas of voluntary public service, personal development, physical fitness and expedition and exploration.
“Earning the award is a fun way to get more involved in something you already enjoy or something you’d like to try for the first time, and in the end you are honored for achieving your own challenging goals,” Miera told The Tribune.
“I registered for the award as a freshman after learning about it through National Charity League,” Miera said. “NCL offered so many volunteer opportunities that I wanted to try, that the goal of earning this award’s 400 service hours seemed possible. I loved working at all my volunteer positions because each one was like a mini job for me, and I grew confident at a young age with how to handle myself professionally at places like Kidspace Museum, The Armory, the Pasadena Senior Center, and assisting in the San Marino Unified School District’s summer school classrooms.”
Miera also served as a junior counselor at Tom Saywer Camps while working on her Girl Scout Gold Award, all of which counted towards her 400 service hours.
Miera is also a member of a competitive dance team, which helped her accrue the 200 hours necessary to fulfill the physical education requirement.
“Though I have had a love for traveling since I was little, for me, the expedition portion was the most challenging aspect of the award,” Miera said. “With so much freedom, I did not know where I wanted to go, but during my freshman year I ended up planning a trip to visit my friend, who lives on an organic farm in South Carolina for a week. The 200 hours for Personal Development was the most fun out of the four sections, as the award presses you to think about what new club or activity could make you grow the most. Although I was already the kind of student that loved joining new things, such as Comedy Sportz at SMHS or going to Barnard’s Young Women’s Leadership Institute, the award asks that you spread out your time over the years so you develop a long-term commitment to things you are passionate about. For me, I discovered it was the theater and feminism.”
The “theater” part of that combination has taken up a substantial amount of Miera’s time and energy. The daughter of Laura and Paul Miera has earned a part in all four all-school musicals throughout her career at SMHS.
“Though, this past year, my senior year, has been the most fun and memorable,” Miera added. “Earlier this year the Advanced Drama class put on the hilarious 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee musical and I got the chance to play the super fun role of Logainne Schwartzandgrubenierre, who is a nerdy, liberal girl with two gay dads. Sadly, my character did not end up winning the Bee, but that didn’t hinder my fondness for the show; it definitely was the most fun I’ve ever had on stage.”
Miera also played Tzeitel in this year’s Fiddler On The Roof.
“Fiddler was surely a very heartwarming show and one that the community seemed to really love, which made the experience all the better,” Miera said. “It’s definitely a show I will truly never forget and was the perfect show to end high school with.”
Miera is a member of the International Thespian Society at San Marino High School and served in the group’s cabinet her junior and senior years.
“Thespians is a society of performing artists on campus who come together to support the San Marino theater community,” Miera said. “We go see local shows, participate in the performing arts at the high school, and engage with the arts community.”
Outside of school, Miera is a member of the National Charity League and Girl Scouts.
“I started Girl Scouts as a little first grader with the intention to just sell more than 15 boxes of Girls Scout cookies,” Miera joked. “But those goals began to grow as the years passed. This past June I was awarded the Gold Award, the highest achievement in the organization, for my time with assisting an adaptive dance company for dancers with Down syndrome, Free 2 Be Me Dance.
Miera was also one of three students at San Marino High School who organized a poignant memorial service for the 17 victims of a tragic shooting in February at Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.
Miera is headed to Loyola Marymount University in the fall, where she will major in English and minor in either Women’s and Gender Studies or Journalism.
“No matter what I end up doing after college, I want it to be something creative,” Miera added.
She said that working towards the Congressional Gold Medal “taught me to challenge and push myself.”
“At each new stage of the award it made me reevaluate what my priorities were, which made me also think about what things in the world at that point I wanted to change,” Miera said. “This award has been a good platform to express the things that matter to me and that I passionately care about.”