August 6, 2022

#SpotlightSaturday Board of Directors: Meet Astronaut Nicole Stott

Astronaut Nicole Stott is an astronaut, aquanaut and artist. She is a veteran NASA Astronaut with two spaceflights and 104 days living and working as a crewmember on both the International Space Station and the Space Shuttle. She has quite the out of this world resumé! This past year, Astronaut Nicole became one of our newly elected Board of Directors members for Higher Orbits.

Last month, I enjoyed a stellar chat with Nicole, where we talked about Higher Orbits, spaceflight, and the powers of that on students in STEM.  

Katy Thompson: What Inspires you to serve as a Board of Directors Member for Higher Orbits?

Nicole Stott: I think everything about Higher Orbits does. I have a history with the Founder, Michelle Lucas, way back to Shuttle/Space Station training days. I was so excited to see her branch out a bit and use her talents for the greater good with students and these programs.

Space is an inspirational tool for helping these kids discover what they are most interested in. what they are more curious about, and I think space is one of the best ways we can do that for students. Then you throw all the other creative tools into mix. Everything from artsy stuff like creating a patch, to leadership tools, then technical stuff that goes along with it, and the ability to communicate all those things with each other. These are all skills that these kids are going to need in whatever they decide to go and do to make life better in the world for all of us. I think that the Board of Directors side of it is, I am just thankful that the Higher Orbits team would want me to be part of that. To allow me to help shape what’s going on with these programs and add whatever good bit I can from my experiences.

KT: Absolutely. I know we are super excited to have you be a part of this Nicole.

You touch on such an important thing that I would also like to highlight. Higher Orbits and Go For Launch! are of course based around space and the excitement of spaceflight, but it doesn’t mean that these students are going to be astronauts or all want to be astronauts if they attend our event. It is just fun and should be thought of as an experience that allows students to see themselves in any field, achieving any goal, that they set their mind too.

Would you be able to talk a little bit about your experiences at our events and the opportunity to work one-on-one with students at Go For Launch!?

NS: My last Go For launch! experience was relatively close to home in Lakeland, FL and for me, it was special for a couple reasons. For one, I had a connection to the Lakeland airport through my dad and the SUN n’ FUN expo, so I was really intrigued to see what it was going to be like through one of these events there. It was great and the facilities were awesome. I think Higher Orbits also does a really great job making sure that the participants are going to be in a place that is interesting on its own. Then, you throw in the programing they are going to be doing with the activities and stuff, which just makes it an even better place to be.

I think at any of these events, the students are the highlight of it for me. They have an astronaut come in and speak with them and engage with them. There is also going to be support either from universities, scientists, or engineers’, others in the industry. A variety of folks that are brought in from the space business. I think that is really uniquely special about it because it isn’t just talking to an Astronaut, sitting there watching a presentation from them, they leave, and the kids go off and do their thing. Any of these people that come in and engage with the kids, actually get to. I say the word get because to me its special too. To be able to physically go, talk to, and listen to what they are thinking and how they are working together, that is inspirational to me, a person who is participating in a totally different way.

KT: I love your take on that. It makes the experience for students that much more meaningful too. It is amazing for them to know that our supporting astronauts and speakers are investing the time to listen to their ideas and truly be a helpful resource in any way possible.

This next question is my favorite… if shipping and packaging was not an issue, what three things would you bring with you if you were traveling to Mars tomorrow?

NS:

  1.  Family
    Oh my gosh… My son… my family. 
  2. Paints
    I would definitely take paints with me again... 
  3. Something to bring everyone else along with her on her journey to Mars 
    …something that makes you feel like you are bringing the people you care about that helped get you there. The paintbrush I painted with on Space Station, was actually a friend of mines who is an amazing artist. So, whatever that third thing is, something that I can bring everyone else along too. 

We are galactically grateful to have Nicole a part of our program and team as both an Astronaut who has supported our events and now as a Board of Directors member. Her passion for students in STEM and her love of space, spaceflight, and its inspirational power make her a truly out of this world Board of Directors member.


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