If it’s meant to be, it will come back. Alex Suh’s opportunity at an internship was taken away due to the pandemic, but he didn’t give up on his dreams. Now, he is researching the effects of spaceflight on the human body as an intern at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. Read about his second chance at following both of his career passions: medicine and space.
His Opportunity Vanishes
Suh applied for a NASA internship during his last year being an undergrad. Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus pandemic, he was unable to continue the process of becoming an intern. Suh felt he had lost his chance to fulfill his childhood dream of working in the space industry since he would soon get busy with his strict academic path toward medical school. Suh had never even heard of a medical student interning at NASA.
Almost two years later, Suh learned that he would receive ten weeks off for summer vacation between his first and second year of medical school and thought this would be the ideal time to try again for an internship opportunity.
A Second Chance
Suh decided to apply and jumped up and down in excitement when he received an acceptance letter to research the physiological effects of spaceflight on the human body at the Johnson Space Center. He loved his initial experience as an intern and decided to extend his internship part-time into the fall while also taking preclinical courses at Tulane University School of Medicine as a Cardiovascular and Vision Intern.
“This internship has given me an opportunity of a lifetime to explore the field of aerospace medicine at a place where it is most applicable and exciting — Johnson Space Center. Every day this summer, I’m excited to get out of bed and learn more about the effects of spaceflight on the human body. Who knows? Maybe I’ll be a flight surgeon one day,” Suh said.
If you’re interested in interning at NASA, visit the website for information on opportunities and requirements. Read about more interns on the intern blog, such as Susie Bennett’s story on her path to an Exploration Research and Technology Programs internship.
Carolina Rodriguez, STEM Engagement Communications Intern Claire O’Shea, STEM Engagement Communications Intern, Editor NASA Johnson Space Center
Nicholas Houghton dreamed about becoming an astronaut but initially pursued an internship in the automotive industry instead. He never felt connected to his role, so he decided he wanted to pursue his childhood aspiration with an internship in the space industry. In 2018, after networking with dozens of people to learn about NASA and the application process, he accepted his first internship at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Strategic Partnerships Integration.
Houghton then worked on the Orion Crew Survival Systems team (OCSS): the mission to build the next generation launch and entry suit along with the associated crew survival and recovery hardware the crew uses upon return to Earth.
Houghton’s projects for the OCSS team include making an ice-based portable cooling unit for the OCSS suit and modifying an Orion seat mockup in the OCSS lab to incorporate a working display and control unit. The portable cooling unit allows the crew to stay cool while going to the launch pad and during the capsule and crew recovery process. The Orion seat mockup mimics the cockpit and control layout found in the Orion Spacecraft and is used to ensure the OCSS suit is properly sized for each crew member.
‘The OCSS team is very close, and my team members are always willing to answer questions, teach me about the suit, or help me with my projects,’ Houghton said.
One thing Houghton wished he knew before his internship was that NASA accepts interns from every state in the US. ‘I grew up in Michigan and I had no idea that working at NASA was a realistic option. I wish I had known that NASA accepts interns from all over the United States,’ Houghton said.
With his involvement in the Pathways Internship Program and his recent double degree in Master of Science in Aeronautical & Astronautical Engineering and Industrial Human Factors Engineering at Purdue University, Houghton is set to become a full-time employee at NASA’s Johnson Space Center on the Orion Crew Survival Systems team.
Want To Be A NASA Intern?
If you are a US citizen or from a participating country, make sure to visit our website and apply for a NASA internship. You never know where it will take you! Need some advice on applying? Check out the ten things you can do to prepare for a NASA internship. Or, for more inspiration, read about Nylana Murphy, a Navajo Intern Engineer, and her goal to demonstrate to native students that the world is for them.
Carolina Rodriguez, STEM Engagement Communications Intern Claire O’Shea, STEM Engagement Communications Intern, Editor NASA Johnson Space Center
At NASA, our workforce is made up of people who have pursued higher education in countless different fields – but that doesn’t always mean attending a 4-year university right after high school. In fact, many people in the NASA family (astronauts included!) have taken a non-traditional path to their education.
In celebration of Community College month, let’s chat with intern Jessica Bardetsky about her experience attending a community college.
Where It All Began
Since she was a little girl, Jessica has always been fascinated with space saying, “I love space! There is something mysterious about it. The first thing my family did after moving to Texas was visiting NASA. I could never dream that I would be able to work here.”
Jessica, a senior studying Public Health with a minor in Psychology, is a Data Entry intern. As a Data Entry intern Jessica updates master spreadsheets to ensure that each institutional imagery file has a metadata description prior to submission.
Jessica got her start at Lone Star Community College. “Lone Star provided me with the opportunity to complete core curriculum for a fraction of the cost. Attending Lone Star was one of the best decisions I made. Classes are much smaller and provided me with a more engaging learning environment and the opportunity to connect with both teachers and students.”
With excellent academic performance, she was able to transfer to Texas State University, where she was accepted into the National Health Education Honorary, Eta Sigma Gamma. As a member, Jessica connected with others where she was able to develop professional relationships and get involved in community outreach.
Starting at a community college was the first step in gaining the necessary qualifications to get into the honors club and bring what she learned from Eta Sigma Gamma into her NASA internship.
Jessica has some advice for other college students, “Do your research. Look into where you would like to work and contact the organization and ask if they accept interns and how you can become one. Everyone knows that NASA has internship programs, but not everybody knows that you don’t need to Major in Engineering to become an intern with NASA. This organization provides opportunities for non-engineering interns as well as engineering interns.”
Are you interested in learning more about NASA internships? Visit our website for more information on current NASA Internship opportunities. Or, check out our NASA Internship blog. There, you can find valuable tips on the best practices when applying. Also, be sure to follow us @NASAINTERNS on social media to keep up to date on all things NASA Internships!
Lauren Daniels’ interest in space first started when she was a child. In elementary school, her bedroom was adorned with themes of space, complete with ‘glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling’ and posters from a neighbor that had presented about space to her entire first grade class. At the age of 6, Lauren attended a space camp and was selected as commander for the mock base in a simulation mission of ‘lunar explorers.’
Fast forward to high school, she was captivated by math, science, and astronomy, and was third in her class upon graduation. Lauren decided to pursue a degree in aerospace engineering.
Her intern journey began when she first worked on Orion Spacecraft with Lockheed Martin: the exploration vehicle that will carry human crew to space, provide emergency abort capability, sustain the crew during the space travel, and provide safe re-entry from deep space return velocities.
‘This experience strengthened my love of all things NASA, and encouraged me to apply for the Pathways Internship Program. I didn’t get in the first time I applied, but I kept applying as often as I could, and eventually I was accepted.’
As an intern at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, Lauren works on mission design insight for the Human Landing System (HLS). She runs a trade study that analyzes different times and places that humans could land on the moon, updates the flight plan to match the latest designs, and creates a tool to analyze lighting and communication availability on various landing trajectories.
Many students still have some misconceptions when it comes to applying for a NASA internship. We’re here to change that. Take a look at the article to read five common myths debunked from our interns. Do YOU want to be on the NASA team? Check out our website to learn more about the Artemis Generation and find information on eligibility and application steps.
My name is Jorge Arturo Levario-Delagarza and I am proudly from El Paso, Texas. To give a bit of insight about me, I lived in different parts of Mexico for few years as a toddler before my parents moved to Dallas, Texas where I grew up. Currently attend the University of Texas at Arlington majoring in Mechanical Engineering and minoring in Biomedical Engineering.
Being the oldest child and first in my family to go through the United States school system has been a learning curve for my whole family. As a first-generation student, I have learned to adapt to the culture and environment of a new country growing up since my parents grew up in a different country in a different environment.
Growing up, I remember my grandpa was a NASA enthusiast despite never having visited. My NASA concept as a kid was that NASA was a place where rocket scientists in lab coats and astronauts worked on top secret projects that went to outer space. I knew NASA was an awesome place, but even as a kid, I had a mental barrier that NASA was unattainable.
My journey to a NASA internship has not been linear. I was not initially accepted into UT-Arlington and had to write a letter of appeal to be reconsidered. I started in the lowest level math class, college algebra, whileworking full time. After moving around between Uber driving and working as an undergraduate teaching assistant in the UT-Arlington College of Engineering, I went to a conference that changed my life, the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) National Conference in Phoenix. This conference opened my eyes and set off a lot of dominoes.
After the conference, I became an active member in SHPE UT-Arlington chapter where I gained leadership experience serving as Community Outreach Director, Vice President, and eventually President. I currently serve 40+ SHPE chapters as a Vice Regional Student Representative.
Through SHPE mentors, I knew I needed technical experience, so I trained my SOLIDWORKS skills to become a Certified SOLIDWORKS Associate in Mechanical Design. After reading “An Inside Account from Curiosity’s Chief Engineer”, I made a life changing decision to join the UT-Arlington ROVER Team. Committing all this time gave me the opportunity to eventually serve as Mechanical Arm Lead and even Chief Mechanical Officer. Most rewarding part was when we as a team qualified for the University ROVER Challenge (URC) for the first time in 4 years. UT-Arlington was one of 15 out of 88 teams worldwide to qualify for URC 2021.
Getting to NASA
After this wild ride at URC, I got selected for my first ever internship at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control which only took me 200+ engineering internship rejections and 4 years in college to achieve. 6 months later, I saw an announcement posted on LinkedIn by a NASA mentor. I directly messaged him my resume and portfolio of theprojects I hadworked on during undergrad. After several interviews within a week, I got the call that I got a NASA internship while I was with my SHPE UT-Arlington group in Orlando, Florida. Sometimes, the stars really do align!
I plan on completing my education at UT-Arlington while supporting projects at NASA. My future goals are to eventually become a USAF test pilot,a US Navy Diver, attain a Masters or PhD in Mechanical Engineering, with the end goal to work on Artemis projects full-time at NASA. While my experience getting to NASA has definitelynot been linear, there’s always an opportunity for those who persevere and get to work.
Want to learn more about NASA internships or some of our amazing interns? Visit us online for the latest internship opportunities that are available to both high school and college students. Be sure to check out our guide on How You Can Prepare. Or, read more stories about our amazing interns at the NASA Internship blog. For more information on NASA internships or learn about other amazing NASA intern stories, visit us online at nasa.intern.gov.
If you’re fascinated by the idea of interning at NASA, contributing to NASA missions and exploring the extraordinary every day, you’ve come to the right place. Listen to #NASAinterns experiences via NASA’s Podcasts! Don’t see a topic here that you want to learn more about? Tweet us your recommendation!
Houston, We Have a Podcast: How to Be a Successful Intern at NASA
Interns Jaden Chambers from Kennedy Space Center and Leah Davis from Johnson Space Center are joined by mentor Kelly Smith in this episode examining the highly effective habits of successful interns. This episode will be available July 29 at https://www.nasa.gov/johnson/HWHAP.
Each year, NASA’s Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) Internship Project welcomes students of all levels to develop projects of real benefit to the agency while earning real world experience in their fields. In this episode of The Invisible Network podcast, we’ll speak with members of 2021’s intern cohort at three different NASA centers. This episode was published on July 29 at https://www.nasa.gov/invisible.
Sophia Hahn, Shelita Hall, and Emily Anderson, NASA interns from across the agency, discuss being women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, or math), their journey to work at NASA, and the unique opportunities they have experienced during their internship. This episode was recorded on June 14, 2021 and available at https://www.nasa.gov/johnson/HWHAP/women-in-stem.
Shawn Cvetezar, Laura Paulino, and Don Caluya, NASA interns representing NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, Ames Research Center, and Johnson Space Center, respectively, reflect upon the non-traditional paths that led them to NASA and share the many areas and projects that are benefitting from their experience. This episode was recorded on May 27, 2021 and available at https://www.nasa.gov/johnson/HWHAP/uncommon-origins.
Citizen Science on Station
Sarah Smith, a NASA intern, interviews students who were recently selected to fly their experiments to the International Space Station as part of the program under NASA’s STEM on Station initiative called Student Payload Opportunity with Citizen Science, or SPOCS. The interviews for this episode were recorded in March of 2021 and available at https://www.nasa.gov/johnson/HWHAP/citizen-science-on-station.
Shaneequa Vereen, public affairs specialist at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, speaks with NASA interns as they recount their journey with NASA, sharing their backgrounds and experiences they had before and during their time with the agency. The content for this episode was recorded on February 5, 2021 and available at https://www.nasa.gov/johnson/HWHAP/better-together.
Jonathan Abary, Pathways Program Manager, and Alexis Vance, Pathways intern in the crew and thermal systems division, discuss the Pathways internship program at NASA Johnson Space Center. This podcast was recorded on March 20th, 2019 and available at https://www.nasa.gov/johnson/HWHAP/pathways.
As NASA continues to move forward with the Artemis program, you, the Artemis Generation and future STEM workforce, will help take us to distant worlds. Are you ready? Visit us and apply at https://intern.nasa.gov.
Women’s History Month: Recognizing some of our intern leaders
At NASA we celebrate Women’s History Month by recognizing some of our interns and their contributions to NASA. Meet Sarah Smith. Sarah is an intern at Johnson Space Center and a recent graduate of theUniversity of Washington Tacoma where she majored in Communication.
Tell us about your intern journey to NASA or anything you would like to share.
I’m a non-traditional student who returned to school later in life to change career paths, as well as finally finish my degree. My undergraduate experience was awesome and nothing short of life changing. As a student at the University of Washington Tacoma, I found my calling in science communication and media production. With the encouragement of two of my amazing professors, Bill Kunz and Cheryl Greengrove, I took on a research project to create a documentary with the UW School of Oceanography about building the Regional Cabled Observatory, part of the Ocean Observatories Initiative. As I looked toward graduation in December 2020, I wanted to find opportunities that would help me continue to learn and grow while also utilizing my skillset to contribute to something bigger than myself. I never thought I’d be working at NASA, but when I came across the opportunity to apply to be an intern, I jumped at it. I feel so lucky now to be in this position as a STEM on Station intern, and to be doing what I love – storytelling, media creation, and communicating about science and the NASA mission. I’ve already learned so much and feel so supported and valued by my STEM on Station team. This internship is truly a dream come true!
What is your role on your current project?
STEM on Station intern – communications support.
How does your project tie into the Moon To Mars mission? The Artemis program? Any other NASA mission?
STEM education and engaging students around the country in NASA missions and programs, specifically through STEMonstrations, SPOCS, Downlinks.
How are you staying connected to other interns? NASA employees?
I try to attend as many online events as I can to get to know others, and make sure to introduce myself to other interns and NASA employees whenever possible so they can also get to know me. I’ve connected with a few interns so far who are also non-traditional students or recent graduates, and we’ve chatted over coffee a couple times to get to know each other a bit better and begin to build a network. I also attend the “Coffee with Coordinators” meetings whenever possible to stay connected!
What student organization (school, community, etc.) has helped you develop professionally in your STEM/non-STEM journey?
Working on campus, volunteering and taking advantage of every opportunity to learn and grow outside of the classroom is so important as an undergraduate student. While not a student organization, I worked a student job in the Advancement office on campus and hosted the school’s podcast. I learned so much in this position, and had the opportunity to conduct interviews on such interesting topics! Also, taking on an undergrad research documentary video project led to some incredible growth as a STEM communicator. It provided some really exciting out-of-the-box opportunities to learn about how technology is advancing ocean science and exploration.
How do you feel interning during #CountdownToMars?!
It’s super exciting! I have two teenage daughters and it feels extra special to share the #CountdownToMars with them as well. We’re all looking forward to tuning in next week to watch the landing.
By Vanessa Rincon International Education Week 2019 Edition
As a kid growing up in the small town of Muskogee, Okla., I believed there were only two career options at NASA: be an astronaut or a rocket scientist. Neither of which an Okie from Muskogee would fit that mold, so I thought. But I was mistaken. Because here I am, a NASA intern and soon to be a full time employee.
NASA has allowed me to have fantastic mentors, support the future Artemis – to the moon — mission, and given me the opportunity to network with peers from all walks of life. Most importantly, NASA has given me the privilege to engage the community and inspire minority youth about STEM. I truly felt as if I was living the dream.
I am a recent graduate of Langston University, a Historically Black College in Oklahoma with bachelors in accounting and an associate’s in financial planning. Because of Langston University’s partnership with NASA, I made history in 2017 being the first student from Langston School of Business to receive an internship from NASA. During my tenure at Johnson Space Center in Houston, I have been able to complete five internship tours and work on a multitude of different projects. My projects have included everything from working with procurement (buying stuff) to now public engagement (taking the message to the community).
During my first internship, I worked in JSC’s Gilruth fitness center as a business management intern. For my second, I worked in the Chief Information Office (CIO) as the first ever business integrator helping support the CIO and Chief Financial Office. On my third, I worked in the Office of STEM Engagement working with the Houston Independent School District (HISD) working with underrepresented students and cultivating a stronger relationship between NASA and HISD. For my fourth, I had the honor to help coordinate special events for the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo lunar landing. I got to engage with millions of people from all over the world as I helped with our special events, promotions and, also, JSC internal celebrations. I was able to network with every organization and many public figures such as NASA legend Apollo 11 flight director Gene Kranz, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee and many others.
Presently, I’m an External Relations Office (ERO) intern, still in the office of STEM Engagement, continuing working with HISD to maintain and sustain the partnership our team built. The partnership focuses on innovative educational methods and uses best practices that promote the advancement of knowledge and skills toward STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) careers, with a goal to help HISD increase the academic achievement rates in STEM. Our hope is to increase industry, university, and community partnerships which will support and enhance the aerospace themes in HISD.
I never imagined myself working in a STEM career field, but I understand the importance and need for STEM engagement, especially with students in underserved communities. I am a firm believer that what happens outside the gates of NASA reflects what goes on inside NASA. By engaging with the public, we can show people all the amazing things we have accomplished at NASA and will continue to do now and in the future — like returning to the Moon in 2024.
My mission at HISD was to show students, especially students of color, that it’s possible to work at NASA and aerospace industries by offering them experiences and opportunities. One of the challenges I faced was finding different ways to relate STEM that would resonate with the students in terms they could understand. I met this challenge through multiple STEM days, including a virtual reality show of the International Space Station and by including other NASA interns, subject matter experts, and former astronauts.
Even though I’m not a rocket scientist or an astronaut, NASA has allowed an Okie from Muskogee to engage, connect, and inspire youth and to gain aerospace experience by helping students find passion in STEM. I want future generations to know no matter what your background you have the ability to do amazing work for one of the most exciting organizations…NASA.
For me “living the dream” is not working at NASA, but helping improve the world one student at a time.
Are you interested in STEM engagement? Consider applying to a NASA internship! You can find Summer 2020 intern projects at intern.nasa.gov. The Summer 2020 application deadline is March 8, 2020. Start your intern journey today! #NASAinterns
It was a few days before the Intern Photo Challenge submission was due. The interns at NASA’s Johnson Space Center slowly shuffled into our weekly meeting, and you could hear the usual bouts of laughter muffled from the outside. It wasn’t long before someone brought up the Intern Photo Challenge. As a fiercely competitive and creative group, we knew we had to create something unique to clutch Johnson Space Center’s first win. We were in a special position being at our location since many of the suggested photos surrounded Mission Control or other iconic Johnson locations. This was to our advantage, but we thought it would be too simple to settle for the obvious. Additionally, gaining access to Mission Control overnight would be just as grandiose a challenge. A small group of us decided that it would be best to pick a photo that wasn’t originally suggested. Logan Bennett spearheaded the photo search with thoughts that we needed something more eye-catching. After searching through hundreds of photos on NASA commons he had found the one. Logan and Barry Berridge held a brainstorm session on how to tackle this multifaceted photo.
Many questions that needed to be answered included things like, “How do we create the smoke?”, “Where are we going to get the outfits?”, and “How are we going to do this with two days left?” It was clear early on that we were going to need to create a plan. This photo was far too complex to “wing it.” Logan made a dozen phone calls to local party and Halloween stores searching for something to create the orange smoke. He eventually concluded that we were going to need to purchase an actual smoke signal. Alex Kafer handmade the hats, the orange flight suits were purchased at Space Center Houston, and the remaining materials were collected at a local Walmart. We gathered our team and created our plan.
Our team consisted of (me) Jenna Kay Foertsch pictured on the left, Logan Bennett pictured in the middle, Dallas Capozza pictured on the right, Alex Kafer not pictured because he was under water holding us up, Meredith Murray was the genius behind the camera, and Barry Berridge was support.
It was time to take the photo. Saying that this “photoshoot” was madness is an understatement. We picked the nearby lake, Clear Lake, as our photo spot. Only, we went to the wrong lake. We somehow ended up at the lake across from Clear Lake infamously known as Mud Lake, or, alligator haven. Of course, we didn’t know we were in Mud Lake until various Johnson employees later saw the picture and all did a double take on our location choice. Regardless, we plunged into the cold water. In the photo, the three astronauts have their legs tangled up. As we were determined to be as accurate as possible, we flailed in the water for quite some time trying to get our legs up. Alex had to eventually dive in and push us up for us to appear as if we were floating.
What followed included a flurry of comedic events. We dealt with a wet flare, hats flying away, and interns floating in opposite directions. We finally pulled it together and lit the flare. I wish I could say that our expressions of discomfort were an imitation of the photo and not a result of us flopping around. We eventually crawled out of the water and proceeded to walk around in our drenched flight suits. Passersby gave us various funny looks. The looks could have been from the wet flight suits, or they could have been that a group of kids just crawled out of Mud Lake, either way there was nothing to see here, just a few interns.
After Alex, Meredith, and Logan enhanced the photo, the true challenge began. Our true creativity came with our efforts to advertise our photo. Many of our interns shared the photo with their friends, families, and colleges. Alex, Logan, and Dallas spent quite some time reaching out to individual people to get attention to the photo. I contacted Space Center Houston, Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership, and Citizens for Space Exploration for assistance. Being from the Space City was an advantage that we knew we needed to take advantage of. We also contacted groups such as Space Hipsters on Facebook and other individuals on Twitter and Instagram. I had also previously participated in a NASA Social and posted it in the alumni group. The space community never fails to surprise me with their kindness and support.
We were elated when we found out we had clutched the victory. It was the weekend of our intern beach trip and we ran up and down the shoreline in celebration. In a true NASA fashion, our creativity, hard work, and perseverance paid off.
About the Author Jenna Kay Foertsch, a Business and Marketing Education major from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, is a NASA Intern at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. In her internship she helps to manage and improve a co-working space at JSC, utilizing WordPress capabilities, creating data dashboards, and producing strategic content for the Center Operations Directorate.
The phone call students receive when offered an internship is life-changing, but it’s only a brief moment in their journey to becoming a NASA intern. Xavier worked tirelessly for years with his goal in mind, and receiving his internship offer made everything worth it.
The day that I received the call from the Johnson Space Center will forever remain one of the defining moments of my life. The disbelief, excitement, anxiousness, nervousness, joy, and sense of accomplishment all compiled at once. It was a moment that I did not need to look back in hindsight to realize just how momentous it truly was. Finally, the sleepless nights, words of encouragement, and struggles endured, are paying off. I knew what I was capable of, and now nothing could stand in the way of me achieving my dreams.
My journey began entering middle school. I quickly found myself as a cadet in the Civil Air Patrol, and at the age of eleven I flew my first plane. The rest of my time consisted of engaging in emergency service exercises, learning fundamental aerospace concepts, and learning how to fly. By the end of the eighth grade I had earned the rank of Cadet Second Lieutenant.
Starting high school, certain that I wanted to have a future in aerospace, I had my sights set on the Air Force Academy. Consequently, I attended Rancho High School, enrolling in both the Private Pilot and Aerospace Engineering programs. Rancho exposed me to a plethora of new experiences ranging from becoming a varsity wrestler to learning the Russian language. I also met my wonderful teacher and mentor, Mrs. Sara J. Quintana, who opened my eyes to the possibilities and beauty of engineering. Upon graduation from Rancho, I earned my Private Pilot License, worked as an aircraft mechanic, earned twenty-seven credit hours of college credit, and was accepted into the United States Air Force Preparatory Academy. However, I found that my interest in a career with the Air Force waned. I declined my admission offer and attended the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV).
My time at UNLV has been nothing short of extravagant. During my first year I joined the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). As a member of AIAA, I joined a team tasked with designing and building a solar-powered Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) to be flown approximately 340 miles away. This beckoned me for I loved all things aviation and maintain a deep love for the environment. Within NSBE, I began giving back to my community through educational outreach events devoted to encouraging secondary school students to pursue higher education. Then, things ceased to prosper.
While staffing an outreach event I encountered a former high school instructor who told me I would never make it to NASA. I was in a state of disbelief to hear this, however it only motivated me. With fervor, I made it a mission to prove him wrong. Shortly thereafter, I was elected president of my university’s NSBE chapter. While this restored a fair amount of my confidence, I soon found myself in a deeper rut after suffering the loss of a close friend and the former NSBE president before me. Stricken by grief and confusion, I was overwhelmed in an unprecedented manner. Months passed and as the community began to heal, I found a new motivation. One that was no longer just about myself, but rather my community at large.
Pressed with school, work, and emails, I finally got a call during my lab. I rushed out to answer it, and once I heard who it was from, the world fell silent. “This is it,” I thought to myself. “It’s finally happening.” A journey truly out of this world had just begun.