Washington, DC – Today, Congresswoman Julia Brownley (D-CA) announced Rohan Philip, a ninth grader from Oak Park High School, as the winner of the 2022 Congressional App Challenge for California’s 26th Congressional District. Rohan created VetConnect, an app that helps veterans on their journey to better mental health.

“Every year, the Congressional App Challenge underscores the creativity of our district’s young innovators,” said Congresswoman Julia Brownley. “I want to congratulate Rohan for VetConnect, which provides mental health resources to help veterans and their families connect with the help they need. Rohan’s app will undoubtedly serve as an innovative avenue for America’s veterans to access more timely care. As a Member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, my commitment to ensuring our men and women who have served in uniform have the access to the care and benefits they have earned is unwavering – and I am proud to see that Rohan’s app will augment this effort.”

“I also want to congratulate all the students who took part in the Congressional App Challenge. This year, students submitted apps that address the important issues in our world today,” Congresswoman Brownley added. “Submissions tackled various pressing issues including mental health support, water conservation, and healthy living. Every year, I am impressed by the collection of stellar applications we receive. This year was no exception. We are so fortunate to have such promising innovators in our district.”

“Participating in the Congressional App Challenge has gifted me the opportunity to showcase my interest in coding and app development while simultaneously providing a service for one of our greatest national treasures, the veteran community,” said Rohan Philip, the designer of the first-place winning app, VetConnect.

“My inspiration for this project came after I heard the disturbing mental health statistics that follow veterans after their time serving. By identifying the common struggles that veterans face, I was able to use my coding skills to create an interactive platform that allows veterans to reconnect back with society by providing mental health, education, and employment opportunities. Building VetConnect has not only furthered my skills in app development, but has also allowed me to create an important resource that any veteran in our nation can use.”

“Congratulations to our OPHS Eagle, Rohan, on winning the Congressional App  Challenge,” said Matt McClenahan, Oak Park High School Principal. “He is a wonderful student who is looking to make the world a better place.  We look forward to seeing all he can accomplish.”

“Being a judge for the Congressional App Challenge is so rewarding,” said Catherine Reznicek, Director of Education Technology at the Ventura County Department of Education. “I really appreciate being able to see the creative way that students use technology to address important issues. Our future is in very good hands!”

“It is always a pleasure to participate in the Congressional App Challenge as a judge,” said Joaquin Licea, Chief Technology Officer at the Santa Paula School District. “I am always amazed at what outstanding projects our local students produce. I am especially impressed with how polished and well thought out the applications are. I hope we continue to promote and encourage our students to get into computer science, game creation, cybersecurity, and application design. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for these students.”

Below are the video submissions for the first, second, and third place winners of the 2022 Congressional App Challenge: 

  • 1st Place: VetConnect created by Rohan Philip
  • 2nd Place: Drought Buddy created by Jai Garg and Mia Lesser
  • 3rd Place: PalaNote created by Alexander Sherbrooke, Hershraj Niranjani, and Ryan McCombs

The Congressional App Challenge is a competition organized by Members of Congress across the country for middle school and high school students to create their own software applications and gain experience with computer coding. 

Submissions from students across the 26th Congressional District were judged by a panel of local judges who work within the academic, software, and entrepreneurial fields. This year’s submissions were judged by the following experts: Catherine Reznicek, Director of Education Technology at the Ventura County Department of Education; Joaquin Licea, Chief Technology Officer at the Santa Paula School District; and Dana Thomson, Director of Education Technology at the Ventura County Department of Education.

To learn more about the Congressional App Challenge, click here.


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