Mendota Heights student invited to attend Nobel week in Sweden

- When the world’s brightest gather in Stockholm, Sweden next month for the Nobel Prize Ceremonies, a young Minnesotan will be there.

17-year-old Sarah Betts was chosen as one of only 25 high school and college students from around the world to attend the ceremonies. Of those students, Betts was one of only five to win a full scholarship for the trip. 

“That was incredible," said Betts. "I couldn't quite believe it. I was just so excited."

Betts is a senior at Visitation School in Mendota Heights. She is also a musician and a natural scientist. 

She started playing the violin when she was three years old. When Betts was 10, she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. She quickly realized that her talent had a way of healing her condition.

“I started noticing that my left hand was a lot less painful than my right hand, and so I thought that it was probably due to the fact that my left hand moves and exercises while pushing down the strings, compared to my right hand which just holds the bow,” she said. 

When Betts was only 12, she invented a device called ViEx. The device is shaped like the neck of the violin and users push on the strings for exercise. 

“You press down the strings and it targets the specific joints that are affected by arthritis,” Betts said. 

Betts has two patents on her invention. They are used in clinics and she donates them to nursing homes and community centers around the Twin Cities. 

It was her love of both science and music that inspired her to apply to attend the 2017 Nobel Prize Ceremonies. 

“I love research and I'm really passionate about science and research, and I would love to hear from the Nobel Laureates who are clearly at the top of their field and hear about their trials and tribulations and triumphs,” said Betts.

They students will spend time visiting with Nobel laureates, attending lectures and touring Sweden. 

“I just found out… that I get to go to the Nobel Prize Concert, so I can hear one of the best orchestras in the world and so I'm really excited about that to have the best of music and science in one place,” she said. 

Betts was able to choose one family member to join her on the trip. She is taking her mom. They leave for the weeklong adventure on Monday. 

“I’ll have lots to tell and lots of photos to show,” Betts said. 

Betts has not yet decided where she will attend college next year. She hopes to become a neurosurgeon. 

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