Anna Veal likes talking to individuals around the world. But rather than using social media or a cell phone to do so, she uses a radio.
“It’s learning about different cultures,” the 16-year-old said. “It’s not just having a conversation over the radio, it’s having an experience.”
Tuning in over her handheld radio, Veal has talked to a man in Germany about the weather and music. She’s talked to a girl in Russia about what school is like in the foreign country.
In the digital age, using a radio to communicate may seem old-fashioned.
But for Anna, it is a passion and hobby that has earned her many recognitions, including, most recently, a Radio Club of America Young Achievers Award. The award is presented to students in high school or younger who have demonstrated excellence and creativity in wireless communications, a media release says.
Veal, a student at STEM School and Academy, was 8 years old when she first received her amateur radio license.
According to the National Association for Amateur Radio (ARRL), amateur radio, otherwise known as ham radio, is a popular hobby and service that brings people, electronics and communication together. There are more than 600,000 radio amateurs in the United States and more than 2 million worldwide, the ARRL reports.
Licensees, who must pass a multiple-choice test, have access to groups of bands, or frequencies, on a shortwave or AM radio. The bands allow radio users near and far to communicate.
Ham radios can be used anywhere — on a mountain, in a home, on the side of the road — and are useful in times of disaster when mainstream communication networks fail. According to the ARRL, the Amateur Radio Service kept agencies in touch during the 9/11 tragedy, Hurricane Katrina and the 2013 Boulder flood.
Veal’s love for amateur radio comes from her father, Bryon Veal, who became licensed in his 20s. Bryon received his first radio as a young boy, to which he installed a long wire antenna. He would listen at night and sometimes catch individuals talking from around the world.
“I think sometimes you are born with an intuition towards a hobby,” said Bryon.
That has been the case for his daughter.
Veal has participated in dozens of amateur radio contests and spoken at several national events, including the Rocky Mountain ARRL Regional Meeting in New Mexico. She has received many awards, including the 2015 Amateur Radio News-Line Young Ham of the Year, determined by a judging committee, that recognizes individuals for their accomplishments and contributions in terms of public service.
“There’s just something about the hobby that is very intrinsic for her,” Bryon Veal said.
Veal is also active in her community, serving as an American Diabetes Association Youth Ambassador and starting an amateur radio club at her school that now has about 20 members.
On March 30, Veal is scheduled to be one of four scholarship recipients recognized at the International Wireless Communications Expo in Las Vegas for her Radio Club of America Young Achievers Award. The expo is a venue for individuals in the technology field to connect.
Veal said she is looking forward to networking with others alike. In her free time, she likes to program and design computer games. She has aspirations to study computer science or bioengineering at Colorado State University and hopes to be employed in the computer industry someday.
Of his daughter’s accomplishments, Bryon Veal said:
“I am one proud father.”