Inspired to Soar with Go For Launch!
I walked into the Durham County Library early one Saturday in 2018, I was unsure about the experience that I was about to go through. As I walked out, however, I knew that it was one of the best decisions of my life.
I was introduced to Go For Launch! by a friend of mine at school. As it was Spring Break, we decided to try out the program. Reading about it online, it seemed great. The opportunity to design an experiment, participate in team-building astronomy themed activities, and even meet an actual astronaut!
It seemed too good to be true, so I entered that first session with trepidation. But as I was met by Michelle’s warm smile, the easy affability of Astronaut Greg H. Johnson, and the companionship of like-minded peers, I knew that I had found the right place.
And all through the rollercoaster enjoyment of the program, I learned so many new things. I learned about the International Space Station and got an in-depth view of what life was like there. I got the opportunity to watch a SpaceX launch live. I was able to interact with an actual astronaut, as well as an ISS Flight Controller. I was able to experience being on the frontiers of research by designing experiments for microgravity. I was given all the awe, amazement, and inspiration that astronomy has to offer in an incredible three-day experience. And I was able to get all of this from a place 20 minutes from my home!
And although I did not walk away from the program with the winning experiment, the experience that I got from it was incomparable. I was able to enhance my critical thinking and public speaking skills. I was able to experience brainstorming, researching, preparing, developing, and finally presenting ideas, in a way that I never had before.
But there was something else that Go For Launch! gave me.
Inspiration is a powerful thing. It can spread like a wildfire, alighting everyone it encounters with dreams and goals for a better future. And that is the effect Go For Launch! had on me. I was inspired to reach the lofty heights that Astronaut Greg H. Johnson literally did. I was inspired by Michelle, traversing the whole country, spreading her love of astronomy wherever she went.
And I began to do more things. I attended Space Camp, spent nights gazing at the stars, visited the Kennedy Space Center, and read everything about astronomy I could get me hands on. I was inspired to further develop myself and my education, and I was never afraid of soaring to new heights.
Go For Launch! had a lasting impact on me and my development. The inspiration that I gained from the program was multifaceted and potent. It fueled my goals for the following years and was the driving force in my development. And the most significant thing that Go For Launch! gave me was something even better than a chosen career path, the experience of interacting with a real space voyager, and the critical thinking and public speaking skills required for success in the workforce.
It gave me hope. It gave me goals. It gave me a never-ending thirst for knowledge.
And it gave me inspiration. It inspired me to make a better tomorrow, to lead a new generation of people into the great unknown that is our future, to pursue unique channels of knowledge.
And it inspired me to be the best that I can.
– Pranet Sharma
(This blog was written by stellar Go For Launch! Durham student Pranet.)