From the time I was a very young girl I was fascinated with space and just knew that I wanted to work in the space industry. In 1986 the movie "Space Camp" came out and I just KNEW that I had to go! (Don't be hating on that movie either - I know it's beyond cheesy but hey for a young girl in love with space it was awesome!!!) Unfortunately I was not quite old enough yet at the time so my parents decided that we would just go visit the US Space and Rocket Center which is where Space Camp lives. If you think I was determined to go to Space Camp after the movie after visiting in general no one could have kept me away!!!!
In fourth grade (1989 - a year after the trip) I was fortunate enough to get some help to be able to afford to go to Space Camp for the first time. (My family certainly didn't have much money but my mom especially had a lot of determination that I was going to have the ability to chase my dreams. In fourth grade my friend Cynthia Skolak decided to go to Space Camp with me - boy was I excited! My dad offered to drive us to Huntsville (about 12 hours from where we grew up) and wisely decided to drive through the night so Cynthia and I would sleep instead of chattering endlessly and driving him crazy :) Space Camp was still fairly new at that point so the habitat (dorms of sort) was still under construction so we had to stay at the hotel on the property. (I remember them putting tape on the outside of the doors so they could tell if we had snuck out at night. It's funny the little things you remember!!) We had so much fun that week!
I went to Space Camp 2 more times after that but they were the follow on levels - Space Academy I (1991) and Space Academy II (1994). We really couldn't afford it so I applied for scholarships... I didn't receive one the first year I applied for Academy I and was crushed but grew more determined to do even better the following year when I applied. That following year I remember jumping for joy (literally!) when I received news that I had gotten a scholarship. That trip was the one where I met my friend Celeste Villegas. Celeste and I remained friends for nearly 10 years after camp by writing letters - really the letters were more like novels - to one another. Sadly we lost touch at some point but thanks to Facebook we are back in touch!! In high school (my last time to visit Space Camp/Academy as a camper) I applied for and received another scholarship. I was so excited to get to attend the highest level of camp for a variety of experiences including getting to dive!!! There I met a gal who I would later run into again at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. It sure is a small world!!!
I was so very fortunate to have a mother who was so very supportive of my dream - THANK YOU MOM! I love you! I was also fortunate to have people throughout my life who helped support me in my ventures to learn more about space through Space Camp such as teachers who helped with donations for my travel etc. It's thanks to all these people that I have achieved all I have.
While at University I decided that I wanted to return to Space Camp as a counselor and was offered positions at both the Alabama and Florida Camps. Though I had attended the Huntsville, Alabama camp every time I decided to take the position in Florida because well hey it was Florida! I feel fortunate to have been a part of both of these camps. Sadly the Florida camp closed a fews years back but the Astronaut Hall of Fame still exists there in Titusville and I have had the pleasure of returning there with a student group through ISSET.
Tonight I am lucky enough to be the class representative of the Space Camp/Academy class of 1994 for the 30th anniversary of Space Camp. It's been nearly 20 years since I last visited here so I can't wait to see it!! Stay tuned for how it goes!!!