Bothell teen wins national Search for Hidden Figures contest

Bothell resident Yuna Shin’s “insatiable passion” for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) is evident in most of her interests and extra-curricular activities.

For starters, she is an instructor for the non-profit organization Girls Rock in Science and Math, where she teaches lessons in the subjects every other week.

“I’m able to express how much I love STEM,” Shin said. “It’s fun and really rewarding to empower them.”

That passion Shin feels for STEM has paid off big for the 17-year-old junior at Henry M. Jackson High School in Mill Creek, as she has won $50,000 as part of the national “Search for Hidden Figures” contest.

The contest is a promotion for the film “Hidden Figures,” which tells the true story of three African-American female mathematicians who worked at NASA during the space race in the 1960s. The contest was sponsored by 21st Century Fox and PepsiCo, and more than 7,300 people entered. (More information about the contest can be found at

“My emotions came in waves — I was shocked, excited and thankful,” Shin said of her reaction to winning the grand prize. “The contest was an opportunity for STEM-driven females like me across the country to voice our presence in STEM.”

Once she was named a semi-finalist in the contest, Shin was instructed to make a video (at three minutes or less) explaining why STEM is important to her and how it can improve her life. Her contest-winning video can be found online at

“I really emphasize how I love and am so driven by STEM because it gives me the knowledge to think outside of the box,” she said of the video, where she also highlights her dedication to encouraging other women and girls to pursue STEM subjects.

“I am more determined than ever to break barriers in STEM for females today and tomorrow while bringing others along with me,” Shin said after she found out she won the contest on Jan. 12.

Shin is a self-proclaimed “space nerd,” and she is very excited about the other prize in the contest, a trip to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

“I can’t wait to explore the center and learn about the greatest accomplishments of space in person,” she said.

This contest win isn’t Shin’s only tie to NASA; she is enrolled in NASA’s Washington Aerospace Scholar program, which allows high school juniors to take college classes online.

In addition to the aerospace scholar program, Shin has received numerous accolades for her STEM projects. She won first place for a video she made for the University of Washington Climate Change Video contest in spring 2016, and she and her classmates in the Technology Student Association at her school won first place in the Washington state Verizon App Challenge for coming up with the idea for Neurolyze, which detects abnormal brain waves to prevent seizures for epileptic patients.

Shin hasn’t yet decided what career path she’ll take, only that it will be something that involves STEM, of course. She plans to use the $50,000 from the contest to fund her education at a four-year college.

“I am definitely interested in biology and astronomy, and I’m taking advantage of as many opportunities as I can with STEM,” she said.