Ad Astra

I wouldn’t wish this feeling upon anyone.

I feel like I’m leaving part of my life.

Today was my last day at Johnson Space Center, and I turn in my badge tomorrow. It’s been so amazing. I’ve had such a wonderful time.

I’ve grown to be much more confident. I’ve met so many amazing people. I’ve had opportunities to work on amazing projects.

There will be a longer post later. I just needed to ramble for a moment.

But I promise, NASA, you haven’t seen the last of me. I will be back.

~E.

drinking from a fire hose

All my life, I’ve been told things that most people struggle with are like “drinking from a fire hose”. What a beautiful analogy for trying to process a lot of new information at once. Things like starting college, filing taxes, and getting a job. Things I did not struggle with.

jsc sign

Working for NASA as an intern is no small feat, I’ve known that from the start. I did, however, finally experience what drinking from a fire hose tastes like. I’m still finding out. I just completed my first week at NASA, and almost everything feels over my head. It truly is an incredibly humbling experience, though. It really took one of my co-workers to sit me down and tell me that if I learn nothing else from him, let it be that no one is going to care if I ask questions. That no one will think I’m not smart. I really had to break out of my shell, and swallow whatever pride I thought I had.

I’m surrounded by a wonderful group of peers and mentors that absolutely love what they do, and I am so fortunate to be able to learn from them. All the other interns are incredibly friendly, too. There’s about four others from Ohio, which is really cool. I guess in my mind I pictured that everyone would be from Texas, but that’s actually not the case at all! One girl I befriended at orientation had spent a lot of time at Kennedy Space Center, and another guy had just finished working for Lockheed Martin.

nasa goals

I also decided it was time for me to finally try out the bullet journal thing, which I’ve absolutely fallen in love with. I’ve set a few internship-long goals, such as obtaining my amateur radio license and a scuba certification. One of my favorite goals, however, is to learn a new thing every day. At the bottom of every day’s page, I’ve written what I’ve learned. It’s such a beautiful, creative, and fun way to keep track of things.

Some things are not quantitative goals, like being more confident, making new friends, or being less picky. I love the challenge though, and I’m having a blast.

When it comes to food and my picky-ness, Texas is a wonderful place to attempt to overcome this. As long as I can continue to stay away from seafood, life is good. I’ve been packing my lunch most days for work, which is really good for my attempts to avoid getting a lot of fast food (and blowing my entire paycheck at the Chick Fil A across NASA Parkway).

My mentor and his wife took me out for lunch at Noon Mirch on Thursday. Noon Mirch is an Indian buffet-style restaurant about five minutes down the road from NASA. I ate a lot of new foods that I never would have tried before. I had a variety of lentil-based dishes, and I even had a breaded jalapeno.

noon mirchMy favorite, by far, was the creamed spinach (known as Saag). The Naan (a flatbread-like bread) was good, too. There were chicken meatballs, and rice, and more breaded veggies.

For dessert, I tried some rice pudding with a cookie. It was an interesting dish.

On Friday, I went out to eat with a different group of co-workers to Ritter’s, a burger and hot dog place that serves frozen custard. I got a burger there, and it was pretty good. I mention this since I mentioned trying to not be picky- the burger had “Ritter’s Sauce” on it, and I have no idea what it was.  Five points for me. Yay.

rocket park

Here’s a view of Rocket Park, where I ended up because I needed to use the restroom while waiting for my badging appointment (and their restroom didn’t work). It was super cool to see. I’ll definitely have to go again and take the time to look around inside the giant hangar- there’s a Saturn V rocket in there.

On Friday evening, I participated in Critical Mass with the family I’m staying with. Critical Mass Houston is a GIANT bike ride through Houston. Like, there were probably around 2,000 people there. It was super cool. The event began as a social protest to bring awareness to how un-bike friendly cities are, and I think that’s a great point.

critical mass

We ended up riding almost 25 miles, which was an incredible feat for me since I haven’t really rode a bike since being in the Netherlands in May. I felt incredibly accomplished when I finished all 25 miles. I met a bunch of really nice people (almost everyone in Texas is super nice) and I had a blast. My legs didn’t even hurt that bad the next day. I should do this more often. It was also a phenomenal way to see Houston. It’s such a beautiful city- especially in the dark. It also has a lot of one-way streets… And I thought Ohio was bad! 

saltgrass steakhouse

Yesterday, M and I drove down to Galveston for dinner. We went to Saltgrass Steakhouse, and yes, I got double potatoes. YOLO, right? (Please never let me say that again)

The fries were phenomenal. AND I WAS, AT ONE POINT, PROBABLY 30 FEET FROM THE GULF OF MEXICO. That was incredibly epic. It’s nothing like Lake Erie (whoa, who would have guessed).

Texas is super cool, and NASA is amazing. It’s a little weird to not be in classes right now (*glances at the two online classes I’m taking*), but it’s such an amazing experience. I’m so happy I took the internship. I’m so happy I got this opportunity. Right now, it’s like drinking from a fire hose- but soon, I’ll learn. One co-worker I met that I got lunch with Friday said that it’s still like drinking from a fire hose, but she just found a way to redirect it to a pool first. Maybe I’ll find my own pool soon, too.

Last, everything is genuinely bigger in Texas. I always thought it was a joke, but it definitely is not a joke. A movie theater we went to to see “Crazy Rich Asians” had over 25 theaters. It was crazy huge. Oh, and I said y’all. Once.

Alright, I think it’s time for me to keep convincing myself I’m being productive by staring at my philosophy class and not actually doing anything. Wish me luck!

I looked up “space quotes” to be cute and end this in a NASA-esque fashion but this is what I got and I thought it was cute anyway… so here goes.

“There is always space for improvement, no matter how long you’ve been in the business.”

~E.🌎

How to Survive a Drive with a Lion

Buckle up and hold on for the ride, because I didn’t even know driving 7 hours and only stopping once was something this girl is capable of. The drive from NE Ohio to Houston, Texas was WILD. To be completely honest, I was pretty sure that my 2004 Volkswagen Jetta would die on the way. Spoiler alert: we made it!

But like.. how?tx1

Well, none of it would have been possible without the help of a phenomenal family friend. He drove the rest of the time, which… 20 hours minus 7 is a whopping 13 hours. He started in Ohio, and drove all the way to Jackson, Tennessee. Tennessee was probably the most boring part of the drive in my opinion. It felt like we were in Tennessee for EVER. Leo and I shared the Chips Ahoy cookies in the backseat next to him in Tennessee, and probably ate a few too many, but that’s okay.

I drove from Jackson to Marshall, Texas. I drove through Memphis, and all the way through Arkansas. The sunset was gorgeous. Driving through Little Rock was an interesting experience. Lots of bends, lots of cars, and lots of lights all at once. Gas prices started going down the farther south we got though, which is something I’m super thankful for. Also, why does Arkansas smash city names with the word “Arkansas”? Like… Is Arkadelphia really necessary? Even auto-correct wants to change that to Philadelphia. Also, why not “Philansas”?

Driving into Texas was crazy. By this time, it was dark. I had my first experience driving on a road with a speed limit of 75 miles per hour. Legally going that fast is pretty cool. I’ve been told there’s a road somewhere in this state (which is unnecessarily large, by the way) where the speed limit is 85. I may have to go find that road.

We made it to Marshall, Texas where we stopped at a Whataburger. I will admit, that was a phenomenal hamburger. Especially at 1 o’clock in the morning (two o’clock to my body, yay central time!). After eating, my friend drove the rest of the way.

tx3

We got to the place I’ll be staying right around 5 o’clock in the morning and met my host. Leo was extremely excited to stretch his paws after such a long drive. The bed was super comfortable. I finally fell asleep around 6 o’clock in the morning.

Somehow, I woke up at noon. I took a shower, organized a bit, and met the family. They’re wonderful people, and I’m so excited. The house is gorgeous. My room is so nice. The daughter is a year older than I am, and she’s super cool. We’ll call her “M”. M and I got Chick Fil A today, after she showed me around the area. There’s a Chick Fil A right across from NASA, and I think self control may be the biggest thing I learn during this internship. I also saw a real palm tree for the first time today!

tx4

Orientation for the internship is on Monday, and I’m so excited. I’m also nervous, though. It’s going to be crazy. I don’t think it’s truly sank in that I’m in Texas, and I’m about to work for NASA.

tx2I’ve jokingly told a few people now that if the Space Force Academy becomes a thing, I’ll be one of the first females to graduate (super relevant, I know). But you know what, you never know where life takes you. Leave your options open.

I just hope next time I leave my options open and go where life leads me, the bugs are a tad smaller. When they say everything is bigger in Texas, they mean it.

So, how do you survive a long drive with a lion?

  1. Lots of Chips Ahoy Chewy cookies
  2. 1 cold Gatorade for every 2 hours of driving
  3. A cool family friend (knowing lots about cars and playing cool music is a bonus)
  4. The ability to admit when you’re tired
  5. The ability to sleep in the passenger seat of your own car (yes, it’s super weird)
  6. Lots and lots of adrenaline. Arkansas was boring, but once we got into Texas…
  7. Clean your windshield every chance you get at gas stations. Dead things leave streaks if you use the wipers.
  8. There’s no shame in going the speed limit, even if cars in Kentucky decide they want to attempt to take off next to you.
  9. Don’t merge too close in front of drivers from Arkansas. They need at least two semi truck-lengths to feel secure.
  10. Have fun!

So, there you go. Enjoy your next road trip. Or don’t, that’s all up to you.

I’ll be back to ramble to you from NASA’s Johnson Space Center next time, right here on my blog! Hopefully maybe my nerves will settle down. That would be cool.

Until then, don’t be afraid to try new things!

~E.💫

National Aeronautics and Space Administration | The Intern

The past few weeks have been an insane rollercoaster ride. On June 10th, I started the application process on NASA’s internship website.

If you’ve ever had any interest in NASA, I highly encourage you to apply. NASA is so much more than astronauts… NASA is so much more than just fancy science or math majors! I truly do believe there is a position at NASA for everyone.

The application process really does not take that long. When I applied, I originally sat down at work and took about fifteen minutes just filling in personal information and things I could quickly answer. I then set it aside for a few days, when I returned and completed several open-ended questions about my skills and experience. That too, only took me about 20 minutes. I needed a letter of recommendation as well, and I am incredibly lucky to be surrounded by multiple phenomenal mentors making this no issue at all. The letter was submitted on June 18th, and I submitted the application on the same day.

The application process was relatively painless. I applied to a few projects at the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio since it is the closest NASA facility- therefore making it the most logical. I occasionally logged in to the internship portal and checked if the status of my application had changed. For a whole month, nothing happened. I had begun to accept that school was starting soon, and I did not think anything else of it.

On July 23rd, I received an email from Melissa Corning, one of the Intern Program Coordinators for NASA Johnson Space Center. You read that right: NASA Johnson. I did a quick Google search because my brain couldn’t believe it. That is, indeed, the NASA facility in Houston, Texas. The hub for human space exploration. THE Johnson Space Center. I was baffled. I was amazed. And then logic hit me. How on earth could I go to Texas? Ms. Corning contacted me because of my application: several things had stood out. She asked if I’d be interested in interviewing for an internship formally titled “Evaluate Standards for Wireless Architecture for Internet of Things in Space”.

Naturally, that alone sounded phenomenal. The description and required skills only made it sound more appealing as I read on. Linux. Programming. Networking. Sign me up!

On July 24th, I had a phone interview. It went really well. She asked me questions. I asked her questions. She told me the mentors really liked my resume, that I had a very high chance of getting this internship. When we got off the phone, I jumped up and down in excitement. I just had an interview with NASA! She told me I would know by “the end of next week”.

On July 26th, I got a reply to my thank you email, thanking Ms. Corning for the interview. I think I may have cried in excitement, I’m not sure. She congratulated me on getting the internship.

On July 27th, I got the formal offer from the NASA Internship Application System.

On August 2nd, I formally accepted my internship offer.

The entire process took about a month and a half. Something that started as an application to NASA Glenn Research Center because “it’s close and it’s NASA” turned into the opportunity of a lifetime.

There are a lot of logistics to figure out still, such as where I will be living and how I will be getting to Houston. That’s almost 21 hours to drive, if that is what I decide to do. But I am incredibly fortunate to have an incredible support system of my family, friends, and my boyfriend and his family. Everyone has been so incredibly supportive, and I know I would not be able to do it without their help and encouragement.

I also can’t forget to thank Kent State University – especially the Digital Sciences department. This internship will not negatively affect my schooling at all, I won’t even be behind when I come back! I am so fortunate to be surrounded by an incredible faculty and staff that truly cares about me and is willing to work with me so I can follow my dreams. The Office of Continuing and Distance Education also deserves a mention… Everyone has been so encouraging and excited and it’s truly amazing to work with such a great group of people.

This is a pretty big deal to me, so I have decided to dedicate a specific page of my blog to NASA. If you head over to shebecamealion.com/nasa, you’ll see my big updates from NASA in one consolidated place. I do plan to blog regularly of course, and for those posts you can check out the “National Aeronautics and Space Administration” category right here on my blog. And of course, these views are my own and do not represent or speak for NASA in any way. 

Had you told me two weeks ago that I’d be going to Houston, Texas instead of Kent State University, I would have thought you were absolutely insane. Of course, I still think it’s a little crazy. But honestly, when in my life have I ever done things the “traditional” way? I’m so thankful for this opportunity. Never in a million years did I think I would ever get the chance to work for NASA.

Never stop dreaming, and don’t be afraid to follow your dreams… even if they seem a little crazy. The sky isn’t the limit: there are no limits! So dream big and let life take you wherever you want to go.

I’m incredibly excited to share this journey with you!

~E💫

Image result for nasa

Oh NASA, My NASA

My fascination with The Challenger and Christa McAuliffe started as early as third grade. Doing a presentation on Christa McAuliffe, dressing up as her and really understanding how she lived, brought to light a whole new viewpoint for my younger self.

Here we have a young schoolteacher who was chosen to be the first teacher in space. Understanding the training she had to complete to be qualified, her normal life, and her students really showed me that she was a person- just like myself. I carried a creative journal leading up to my final project one year of middle school, writing “diary entries” as Christa McAuliffe.

The Challenger, even though I was not alive, impacted my life greatly. I was always the first to educate my fellow students on o-rings, on how many seconds into flight the accident happened, and most importantly, the astronauts we lost on 28 January 1986. The people we lost on 28 January 1986.

Columbia. Challenger. Apollo 1. 

The people behind those names that were lost. That left their loved ones behind.

Today, on NASA’s day of Remembrance, I wanted to take a moment and pause to think about the 17 astronauts who have lost their lives doing what they loved- being innovators in their field; space.

Because of them, work continues to make spaceflight safer- learning from the past catastrophes and observing the brave men and women who were all integral parts of their missions.

NASA has this page on their website in case you want to read more: https://www.nasa.gov/specials/dor2018/index.html.

“In an age when space flight has come to seem almost routine, it is easy to overlook the dangers of travel by rocket, and the difficulties of navigating the fierce outer atmosphere of the Earth. These astronauts knew the dangers, and they faced them willingly, knowing they had a high and noble purpose in life. Because of their courage and daring and idealism, we will miss them all the more.

All Americans today are thinking, as well, of the families of these men and women who have been given this sudden shock and grief. You’re not alone. Our entire nation grieves with you. And those you loved will always have the respect and gratitude of this country.

The cause in which they died will continue. Mankind is led into the darkness beyond our world by the inspiration of discovery and the longing to understand.

Our journey into space will go on.” 

These words, said by President Bush in 2003 regarding the Columbia disaster, still ring true today- and every day.

“We’ll continue our quest in space. There will be more shuttle flights and more shuttle crews and, yes, more volunteers, more civilians, more teachers in space. Nothing ends here; our hopes and our journeys continue.” -Ronald Reagan, 1986.

The world stopped for a moment when these three disasters happened. We can continue to honor the legacies of these lost men and women by fulfilling the missions the astronauts set out to do…

The Columbia – discovering new varieties of Microgravity.

The Challenger – spreading STEM education.

Apollo 1 – putting a man on the moon.

“Together, we will go where no man or woman has gone before.” 

~E. ♥