TMSA Juniors Receive Congressional Gold Medal

Two TMSA Juniors Receive Congressional Award Gold Medal
Posted on 04/21/2021
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Cary, NC - Triangle Math and Science Academy (TMSA Cary) Juniors Courtney McCloughan and Cihan Cayli have been awarded the Congressional Award Gold Medal for their commitment to voluntary public service, personal development, physical fitness, and exploration.

The story of the 16-year-old gold medalists is one of hard work and determination that represents hundreds of hours spanning over two years.

“I immediately ran around my house telling my family that I had earned the medal,” said Courtney, full of excitement when the news arrived via email. “Guess who got a gold medal!” shouted Cihan with joy, barging into the kitchen to deliver the good news to his parents while they were eating lunch.

“I am extremely proud of Courtney and Cihan for their high achievements,” said TMSA Public Charter Schools Superintendent Ben Karaduman about the news. “Their gold medals are also an indication of TMSA’s commitment to inspire, challenge, and support students to reach their greatest potential,” he added.

The Congressional Award Gold Medal is the highest honor that the US Congress can bestow upon civilian youth.

“You set achievable yet challenging goals to work towards fulfilling all of the program areas,” said Courtney about the Award Program. There are six cumulative levels that need to be completed. To achieve a gold medal, participants have to complete 200 hours in physical fitness, 200 hours in personal development, and 400 hours in voluntary service. In addition, they must complete a minimum five-day exploration/expedition activity that is completely planned and carried out by themselves.

All in all, this remarkable journey of self-discovery demands enduring dedication.

“This program helped me build the mental toughness and work ethic I need in order to strive in the real world,” said Cihan. He had not made his middle school basketball team before the program. “I used that as motivation for the physical fitness area of the program and became the most valuable player (MVP) of my high school junior varsity (JV) team 24 months later.”

“This program has instilled in me a lifelong commitment to service,” said Courtney. Working towards her public service requirements, she started a service project during the pandemic to spread positivity by distributing over 1,000 bracelets throughout her community, each with a note of encouragement attached.

“It is no surprise to us that Courtney and Cihan have been awarded this great honor,” said TMSA Cary Principal M. John Kara. “At TMSA, we are committed to fostering the essential life skills that our students need for their futures.”

TMSA Public Charter Schools provide a variety of developmental services, programs, and activities to enhance student learning and personal development in support of TMSA’s academic mission.

Courtney and Cihan were mentored throughout their journey to reach their gold medals. “Through these staff-student relationships, we are able to build the foundation for a strong culture, which is critical to the success of our school,” said TMSA Public Charter Schools Student Services Director Krystle Favreau.

"If I weren’t TMSA, I don't think I would have achieved the gold medal, let alone even know about it,” said Cihan. “TMSA’s education,” Courtney concurred, “has taught me to always work through challenging problems, and that mindset was a contributing factor that helped me earn the Congressional Award Gold Medal.”

Courtney and Cihan will graduate next year with the honor of being the first-ever Congressional Award Gold Medalists of TMSA Cary. After graduation, Courtney wants to attend a Service Academy or Virginia Tech and pursue a major in Engineering or Computer Science with the hope of becoming a pilot one day. Cihan has always aspired to become a Stanford Cardinal and exhibits a passion for Artificial Intelligence and Business Administration.

TMSA Cary enjoys a strong academic reputation. It has a long waiting list of more than 2,000 students. It is one of the top-performing high schools in North Carolina with “A” or higher school performance grades since the state started to report school performance grades in 2013-2014. Triangle is also recognized by Niche as a top charter high school in the state, coming in at 10th place on the 2021 list.

Cary's Triangle Math and Science Academy is a part of TMSA Public Charter Schools, along with Greensboro’s Triad Math and Science Academy and Charlotte’s Queen City STEM School.

For more information about TMSA Cary and TMSA Public Charter Schools, visit: