Google, Senator Young Pay Visit to Lake Central High School

For nearly two decades the Google logo located on the search engine’s homepage has been one of the most recognizable objects on the planet. The homepage now features new doodles and animations that bring the logo to life and give the average web-surfer something new to look at nearly each time they “Google” something.

The new doodles have become almost just as popular as the word “Google” itself, and the company decided it was time to let the world help with these designs. That’s when the “Doodle 4 Google” contest came to life. The contest allows for students across the United States and its territories to submit their artistic pieces for this years theme-- “What I see for the future.”

“We have the doodle on our Google homepage and we have real artists that create those, but this project in particular we wanted to embrace and take advantage of the really creative students that are out there in the U.S. We started this project more as an opportunity to showcase student work. It’s been going on for nine years and it has been pretty incredible to see the hundreds of thousands of submissions that we’ve gotten,” Google employee Blaire Bender said.

Bender, along with her co-worker and close friend Kelly Weiss, currently travels the nation recognizing students for winning their respective states contests and getting set to move on to the national vote. On Thursday, Feb. 23, they made their next stop-- St. John, IN.

“[Winning] was a distant thought. I had no idea that I was going to win. I was just so shocked and excited, I couldn’t believe it. I feel important, special and happy,” Freshman Veronica Gonzalez said.

The news of a Lake Central student winning the Indiana contest quickly spread through the halls of the school, and the announcement of the award soon became an event attended by about half the school.

“[All those involved] are really nice to me. I’m so grateful for all they’ve done. Even though [Google] is such an important and huge company, it also has the goal of working with many diverse people offering the same opportunities to all,” Gonzalez said.

One guest in particular that stood out was Sen. Todd Young who decided to stop by for the event during his visit to Northwest Indiana. Young met with the Gonzalez family beforehand and during his speech encouraged students to got out and vote, not for him but instead for Gonzalez’s doodle.

“[Having Google come to local high schools] makes me think of two things,” Young said. “One, it makes me think it’s great that they’re reaching out to students and getting them more comfortable with technology and lifting their imaginations, catalyzing their interests in technology and doing unique things with their professional lives. Number two, it impresses me that they’re such an intelligent company and that they’d be connecting with young people knowing that the young people are going to want to work for a company like Google and use their technology more after being exposed to some of the unique features that they showed us today.”

Having such a large company, especially one as renown as Google, come into a small-town school may seem like a shock to some but it has long been a company goal to reach out to smaller communities.

“Google is so huge on giving back, that’s what I love about it so much. They have a lot of programs to teach young kids computer science and things like that. This is just one of their many programs that goes to outreach with youth. Obviously they’re our future so it’s pretty cool to see that something like this might inspire someone to go to school and potentially work at Google one day,” Weiss said.

The ladder building up to working for Google is one that can start right at a school like LC.

“I would say school is number one and then experience. You can learn a lot more in the real world than you can from a book. I think it’s really important. [Weiss and I] have both had a lot of internships, and been able to have relatable experiences to bring forth to the table at Google,” Bender said.

Working for Google is one of the most coveted jobs in the nation, but with so many people looking to work there it is difficult to find yourself getting hired. However, it is still a job that fits the interests of almost everyone in one way or another, and for a large high school like Lake Central diversity in interests is one thing that is not overlooked.

“Google is such a large company, we have 60,000 employees right now so there’s kind of a space for everyone no matter what you enjoy doing each day. I think really if you find something that you love really don’t be afraid to apply or pursue Google because there are opportunities for everyone no matter what your skill set really is.” Weiss said.

Young himself grew up in a small town in Indiana and uses his own experiences to encourage students that anything is possible if you set your mind to it.

“I’d say study really hard, work very hard [and] don’t let anyone tell you that either you don’t come from the right circumstances or you didn’t grow up in the right area to work for one of these companies. Really, anybody can realize the dream of working for a world class organization like [Google] if you put your mind to it. That would be my message,” Young said.

The national vote is now open through the Doodle 4 Google website. Gonzalez’s piece is titled “The Sky’s Not the Limit” and is under the 8-9 grade group. Votes can be submitted once a day through March 6.