Incoming SBE Zoology major Miriam Talalay earns Congressional Award Gold Medal

Miriam TalalayThe Congressional Award is Congress’ only charity. Established into law in 1979, the Congressional Award was created to honor, encourage, and inspire America’s youth.  In the ensuing years, Congress has recognized thousands of outstanding young Americans who have earned and deserve our admiration and recognition.

Through the Congressional Award, Congress urges young people to challenge themselves. Any interested, motivated student, aged 14 through 24 years old, may participate in the Congressional Award by setting and achieving individually challenging goals in four program areas: Voluntary Public Service, Personal Development, Physical Fitness and Expedition/Exploration. The Congressional Award adapts to meet the needs of every participant as they set goals according to their own interests and level of abilities.  The Award is geared toward youth who set their own personally challenging goals and activities.

Miriam Talalay, who will be starting her studies in Zoology at UMaine this fall, has earned the Congressional Award Gold Medal. To earn the Gold Medal, each participant must complete at least 400 hours of Voluntary Public Service, which means sharing their time and talent for the betterment of the community, 200 hours of Personal Development, which can include developing social and life skills as well as interests, and 200 hours of Physical Fitness, spent in any way that improves their health and quality of life. Additionally, they must spend at least four consecutive overnights exploring a new environment or culture. Miriam has been consistently working to achieve this award for over twenty-four months, the minimum time frame to earn the Gold Medal. In addition, Miriam earned a STEM Star for completing STEM activities in pursuit of her Gold Medal.

To learn more about this award, please visit