“Really? Oh, my God!”
That was the reaction of Audrey McElroy KM4BUN after learning she had been selected as the recipient of Newsline’s Young Ham of the Year award.
Audrey, of Cumming, Georgia, is the daughter of Thomas McElroy, W4SDR, and Janet McElroy, K4PRM. Her brother, Jack, is KM4ZIA.
Audrey is 18 and an honor student who graduated in June from Forsyth Central High School in Cumming, Georgia. She already has begun computer science studies at Georgia Tech.
She credits her parents with generating her early interest in amateur radio.
“By the age of like 3 or 4, I was out there helping my dad put antennas up, run coax in the hot summer heat,” she recalls. “And, I became so fascinated looking into the radios.”
Audrey passed her Tech test in June 2014 at the age of 10, took her General license exam a few years later, and passed her Extra test on Election Night 2016 at the age of 13.
In 2019, Audrey was invited to join the Dave Kalter Memorial Youth DX Adventure to Curacao.
“Probably one of the best experiences in my life, not only in amateur radio but overall,” she recalls. “We were so blessed to be able to use the PJ2T station.
“And we spent day and night making contacts. We broke the record for the number of contacts made. I think we made over 65-hundred contacts in just the span of really just a few days when you count up all the hours.”
Audrey says she put her love of amateur radio together with her pursuit of biotechnology STEM studies in high school to produce a senior capstone project that involved a high-altitude balloon launch.
Her payload was small roundworms or C elegans.
“My whole project was launching them up to 100,000 feet, which I calculated using the amount of helium and everything,” she explains. “And at the same time, I was taking measurements and readings about the pressure and the temperature.”
But this was not her first launch. She credits her mentor, Bill Brown, WB8ELK, a NASA engineer, with helping her achieve success in launching several high-altitude and orbiting balloons including one that circled the globe nearly five times.
Audrey has made presentations during forums in Dayton, Huntsville, and for the Youth on the Air camp. Audrey says promoting amateur radio is a big part of her immediate future.
“Now I kind of make it my mission to bring more youth and especially women into amateur radio and STEM,” she says.
Audrey will receive her award on Saturday, Aug. 20 during ceremonies at the Huntsville Hamfest in the Von Braun Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
Congratulations and Best Wishes Audrey!