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Post image for The Vatican Honors Gay Teen With Award Meant For ‘Role Models’

The Vatican Honors Gay Teen With Award Meant For ‘Role Models’

by Jean Ann Esselink on November 21, 2013

in Actions,Jean Ann Esselink,News

Pope Francis walked the walk last weekend, when he followed through on his promise to make the Vatican more gay-friendly – or at least less gay-nasty – by honoring a sixteen-year-old gay American.

Jack Ankara is an all “A” student at a public high school in Crownsville, Maryland, where half the student body drops out before graduation. Last Saturday, he was presented with the Vatican’s International Giuseppe Sciacca Award, named for an Italian student of architecture, who died at the age twenty-six. Jack won the award for inventing a test that detects pancreatic cancer, after a friend of his family’s died from the disease.

After Jack developed a concept, using carbon nanotubes  to identify proteins, he solicited over 200 university professors and medical researchers to help research and test his idea. He finally found Dr. Anirban Maitra at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, who offered to help. There was just one catch, Jack had to be listed as a “volunteer” on the project, so as not to violate child labor laws.

Jack’s invention earned him over $175,000 in prizes and awards, including first place at the International Science and Engineering Fair, but he says the Vatican’s award was special to him, telling  WBAL:

“It’s really amazing to be recognized by the Vatican, especially as a gay scientist. I mean this would be unheard of just a few years ago. To be part of this bridge of progress is really amazing. It just shows how much the world has grown to accept people that are gay and are LGBT.”

Jack is now developing his invention to detect diseases besides pancreatic cancer, telling the Standard Newspaper:

‘You can switch the antibody to detect all kinds of diseases HIV and AIDS, Alzheimer’s, heart disease.”

However, that project may have to wait. Jack has joined a team of teens entering the ten-million Qualcomm Tricorder X PRIZE, a competition to create a cell phone sized device that people can use to make reliable health diagnoses, with no doctor or medical specialists required.  The Qualcomm prize will be awarded in 2015.

This rarely happens, but I find when it comes to young, gay, Jack Andraka, (below, holding his award,) I am in complete agreement with the Vatican. He is indeed, a wonderful role model.


jack andrake 2




Photo from Jack Ankara’s Facebook Page



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BJLincoln November 21, 2013 at 4:06 pm

It makes my heart swell. Congratulations young man. You have a spot in history now. I hope you fill it with all your dreams.

His high school loses half their students? WTF is going on?! The American educational system is flawed to death but HALF?! Sounds like the entire school faculty needs replaced. It doesn't look like anyone is doing their job.

uncucumbered November 21, 2013 at 5:23 pm

Detroit public schools graduated about 31% of their students. I'd say WTF about covers it.

CuriousUrsus November 21, 2013 at 10:24 pm

I just wonder why you automatically blame teachers for the educational system's problems. Parents are never a problem? Other factors aren't a problem? It's like blaming the pilot for a bumpy flight. It's pretty difficult to motivate unmotivated adults, much less kids. Anyway, this is all tangential.

I hope this young guy has a long, fascinating, rewarding scientific career (or whatever else he chooses to do).

Bose_in_SP_MN November 21, 2013 at 5:59 pm

And may all of the world's most tender love and support be showered on those for whom this affection by an abuser triggers PTSD or similar affects.

Unequivocal congratulations to you, Jack. Thank you for all that you are and will be.

Emily Smith November 23, 2013 at 4:30 am

Awesome kid.

The Vatican has been surprisingly me recently.

reorourke December 13, 2013 at 5:39 am

The Vatican needs to get the word out to its bishops then, for I keep hearing news about how anti-gay the Conference of Catholic Bishops has been lately. They need to reverse course on their opposition to ENDA (the effort to end workplace discrimination) –… and drop their support of such discriminatory policies as the Marriage and Religious Freedom Act –…. The Pope seems to be doing a wonderful job but he needs to get his staff onto the same page.

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