Kennedy Education

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Students Envision "Dream Job" at Kennedy
03.27.09
Dream Job contest winners on launch pad.

Image above: Going where very few ever venture, the winning "Dream Job Experience" students, Nicholas Kreuziger (left) and Evelyn Libal, stand on the service structure of a space shuttle launch pad. Image credit: NASA/Jim Grossmann

Dare to dream. It's a phrase found in mission statements, speeches and on wall posters around the country. In November 2008, the NASA education offices at Johnson and Kennedy Space Centers took that inspirational phrase a step further by partnering with Seventeen magazine, offering a three-day "Dream Job Experience" to two deserving students and a teacher.

NASA astronaut Daniel Tani announced the Kennedy winners Feb. 12, at Lake Mills High School, in Lake Mills, Wis. They were Jeanne Nye and two of her former students at Lake Mills Middle School; Evelyn Libal, 17, and Nicholas Kreuziger, 16.

"I was looking for scholarship opportunities and I stumbled on this contest," Kreuziger said, "And Mrs. Nye knew exactly who we needed to join us."

Teams of teachers and students around the country filled out a set of short-answer questions and wrote essays, vying for the experience. The pool of applicants was narrowed down to five teams and those finalists participated in an in-depth phone interview with a panel from Kennedy's Education Office.

Nye believes Libal's answer to a difficult math question helped them win the experience, which took place here at Kennedy March 25-27.

Libal says she someday wants to work for the non-profit organization Heifer International, creating alternative ways to feed communities. She hopes her education might somehow translate to her finding a way to sustain a community in space.

"If you want to make a station on the moon, it would be intelligent to make it self-sustaining," Libal said. "I would love to help develop stuff like that and eventually take it to the people on Earth who need it."

The winners of the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity got to learn firsthand about NASA's missions, received behind-the-scene tours of Kennedy's launch facilities, and learned about current and future aerospace and engineering careers.

"I had never seen a building like the Vehicle Assembly Building before," Kreuziger said. "Being afraid of heights... I said 'this is a nice view' ... but I didn’t want to look down."

Kreuziger, who plans to attend the University of Wisconsin-Madison, says he sees himself working for NASA someday.

"(Workers) are genuinely excited and passionate... and excited about what they are doing here at Kennedy," Kreuziger said. "How many people can say they are holding a job they are actually excited about going to everyday? It's pretty amazing."

Nye, who jokes she's of no relation to Bill Nye the Science Guy, teaches science to seventh and eighth graders.

"I didn’t expect to teach science, but I had to figure out how find a way to be around people and spend time in a lab," Nye said. "My mom told me I should be a teacher, and at first I said no way... look at me now."

This opportunity gives NASA exposure to young adults because the national magazine has a monthly readership of 13 million. Its Web site has about 28 million page views monthly.

Through the winners' blog and photos, as well as follow-up articles, Seventeen will be able to connect their readers with an inside perspective of NASA's human spaceflight program and also present positive role models and messages to their readers.

"My science education became an important aspect of school when the man first got on the moon," Nye said. "I'm sure that's why I'm here at Kennedy today."

Frank Ochoa-Gonzales
NASA's John F. Kennedy Space Center