The Places We’ll Go

It’s May 1st, aka National College Decision Day! Our nine Back to Space seniors are so excited for our futures at eight different schools across the country. We’re studying a range of topics, from aerospace engineering to electrical engineering to astrophysics to aviation. Here are our schools and our stories!

Krystal Horton

My name is Krystal Horton and I will be attending the University of Colorado Boulder in the fall. I am majoring in Aerospace Engineering with a minor in Leadership Studies! I chose CU because there are lots of amazing aerospace opportunities within the Boulder area as well as abroad, and Colorado is beautiful!

Amanda Shayna Ahteck

My name is Amanda Shayna Ahteck, but I go by my middle name as Shayna. I’m from Holmdel, NJ, the place where cosmic mIcrowave background radiation was discovered, remnant of the Big Bang.

Next year I will be a freshman at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. I will potentially study Course 6-1, Electrical Engineering or 2-A/6, a joint major that allows me to explore both mechanical and electrical engineering. As MIT freshmen enter undeclared in their major, I look forward to explore my interests before committing to a path of study.

I chose MIT because I love their unashamedly nerdy and collaborative culture. I’m a very project-based person, so the thought of being in a school that encourages this level of innovation and brings so many talented people together absolutely excited me. When I went to visit campus and Campus Preview Weekend, it felt like home. They say that attending MIT is like drinking from a firehose due to the rigor of its coursework, but I look forward to the challenges to come.

I initially went into high school believing I would be pre-med, and thought so all the way up until the summer leading into my senior year. I did a lot of side projects throughout high school, but they were mostly for my own entertainment. My interest in building electronics and costume props was just a mere hobby. That summer I worked on a personal project developing a wearable keyboard, the midiKEY. I realized that making and designing things could feasibly be a passion I followed into a career, something that excited me. My insight in building the midiKEY has given me many awesome opportunities, including connecting with a community of other young researchers and engineers that assured me I could be uncompromising in my interests. That anatomy class found parallels with circuit design, and other similar comparisons reassured me that my study could be flexible and find innovation in being interdisciplinary.

I gradually shifted to biomedical engineering as a field of focus, before finally admitting to myself that it would make me happiest to study electrical and mechanical engineering I could apply to making projects come to life. Maybe I still don’t have it all figured out yet, but we’ll see what comes along and shakes things up again.

I’m part of Back To Space because I believe that there’s space for everyone in space. I’m not an astronomy or astro engineering focused person, but I believe that the technology we make here on Earth will propel us to the stars. Someone needs to design the aircraft, astronaut suits, systems for life support, and scientific experiments and instruments on board. In my time at MIT and as forevermore part of the science and engineering community, I hope to develop new innovations and do outreach work to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers that build the structure required for us to go to space.

Mission Control, We Have a Liftoff! A bright future ahead, Go Tech!

Phoebe Wall

My name is Phoebe Wall, and next year I will study aerospace engineering at Stanford University. I chose Stanford because I appreciate the university’s commitment to a well-rounded education, strong aerospace engineering opportunities both in and out of the classroom, and innovative mindset due to its location in Silicon Valley.

Christopher Franklin

My name is Christopher Franklin and I’m from Fort Collins, Colorado.

Next year I’m actually going to be flying airplanes for a small airline or cargo operator, while doing my college online with Liberty University. I’m looking at getting my Bachelors in either aviation, meteorology, or entrepreneurship. Additionally, in the next few years, I am going to earn a degree from an undecided university in aeronautical engineering.

My career aspirations are to become a professional pilot at an early age, to earn my Airline Transport Pilot License at age 21, and go down the road for corporate or airline aviation – all while working on my bachelors degree. When I graduate, I will apply to many Air National Guard Units as many times as it takes to get in to fly fighters. I will attend Officer Training School and pilot training, which will take about a year and a half. At that point, I hope to settle into a good civilian flying job and my flying in the Guard. At that point I want to go into business, probably in the fitness industry. My ultimate goal is to become a test pilot with the Air Force, or other major aerospace company. If the proverbial stars align, I want to become an astronaut from there. One thing is for sure though – I’m going to go as far and experience as many awesome things as I possibly can.

I believe in the mission of Back to Space and want to help inspire people like myself to pursue careers in aviation and space, and remember our awesome history. I think it is important to learn from the great people that came before us, and Back to Space is preserving those lessons and experiences from our astronauts. I believe in pursuing what you are passionate about, striving to become the best version of yourself, and helping as many people as possible along the way. Max it out everyone.

Katie Mulry

My name is Katie Mulry and I’m from Dallas, Texas. In the fall I will be attending the University of Texas at Austin, where I’ll be studying aerospace engineering. I’m so excited to go to college, learn more about my major, and experience all of the opportunities there! There are so many clubs and organizations to get involved with– I don’t know how I’m going to have any free time at all.

The process of choosing a college was long for me, and pretty crazy. I also applied to Purdue, Texas A&M, MIT, and Georgia Tech. Each of these schools has an incredible aerospace program, which was a primary factor in my college choice. I’ve known since sophomore year that I want to be an astronaut one day and work for NASA, so all of the colleges I looked at had strong connections with NASA. I picked my major during my junior year and was able to narrow down my college list even more.

After completing the NASA Texas High School Aerospace Scholars program last summer, I knew that I wanted to pursue the NASA Pathways co-op program or another co-op. That helped me shorten my list even further, as I needed schools that would allow me to do that. I was also a NASA STEM Enhancement in Earth Science (SEES) intern, and I actually got to live on campus for two weeks through that while my team did our research, so UT already felt like home. I finally chose UT because of the incredible aerospace opportunities, the location (Austin is such a fun city, and there are so many aerospace companies in Texas) and a feeling that it was just the right place for me. After touring again, I knew that I was completely right. I can’t wait to be a Longhorn next year– hook ‘em!

Clement Whitaker

I’m Clement Whitaker, and I’m going to Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach Florida.  I will be double majoring in Business and Music Education. The reason I chose business is because it is widely applicable  and I need a four year degree for my ultimate goal of becoming a pilot. The music education is because I am on a music scholarship at the university.  I chose the school because it is a great music and business school that is located close to home. Being able to live at home and commute is a fantastic opportunity and one that saves money due to housing and food being taken care of.

Lisa Alexander

My name is Lisa Alexander and I’m from Houston, Texas. Next fall, I will be studying Computer Science at the University of Texas at Austin. I can’t wait to get settled in Austin and start exploring, both in and out of the classroom. I’m so excited about all the new experiences I will have and for all the awesome passionate people I will meet.

I had a little adventure with the college process. I was still deciding where to apply in late September. I ended up applying to seven schools, UT, Texas A&M, Stanford, Rice, Duke, University of Southern California, and Vanderbilt, all as a Computer Science major. My list encompassed schools of all shapes and sizes, from the east to west coast. There were many late nights come early October as well as moments of stress and edits that were done a little too close to deadlines. Going through this process definitely taught me a lot.

Admissions started coming out and before I knew it I had another decision to make. I have always liked Austin, but I fell in love with UT after completing a two-week internship this past summer (you can read more about the SEES program here). I finally cemented my decision after attending an admitted students day for girls in computer science. We had upperclassmen guides who took us around campus and to their classes for the day. Having this inside look really helped me because I was initially a little intimidated by the class size coming from a small private school. We were shown all around the campus where we would possibly be spending our next four years. After seeing all the opportunities and resources that UT provides, I decided that being a Longhorn was the right fit for me. Hook ‘em!

Sofia Graziano

I’m Sofia Graziano, and in the fall I will be attending the University of Pennsylvania as an astrophysics major.

Luke Gormsen

My name is Luke Gormsen, and I’ll be attending Middle Tennessee State University to study Aerospace Technology and Mechatronics Engineering (with a minor in violin performance)! I chose MTSU primarily for its great Aerospace and music program, and its new engineering program! MTSU has allowed me to stay close to the community I grew up in as well as a full ride to continue my education before pursuing a graduate degree.

We’re all so excited for our futures and can’t wait to see what they bring. We’re the Back to Space seniors of the class of 2019 and we’re so thrilled to go change the world!

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