As I tumble my way into the future, I always find it fun to look back at these snippets from my past dreams. This particular gem is from my application to a NASA Space Grant scholarship – I was 17 when I wrote this, so please excuse the absurd LEGO cliche:
The dream of every little boy, myself included, after seeing the glorious liftoff of a space shuttle on TV is to be an astronaut just like Neil Armstrong, land on Mars, and fight aliens with ray guns. However, one afternoon, as I played with my little LEGO shuttle and rockets imagining myself as an astronaut, I was suddenly struck by a new and perplexing thought. There I was, counting down and “lifting off” with my little model spacecraft, but I had no idea how an enormous chunk of metal with wings could be sent to the heavens with the flip of a switch. Even at seven, I knew enough about physics to know it wasn’t easy; when I tried to blast off from the play structure in the park with all my might, I just plummeted down to my doom in a puddle of tears. I became inspired to glean as much knowledge as possible about these marvelous machines and soon had amassed a bookshelf full of volumes about airplanes, spacecraft, and astronomy.
By now I am quite certain of where I want to take my life. Although, I’ve grown wise enough to understand that academic and career plans change dramatically, I know with complete certainty that my passion lies with science and engineering. There’s nothing else I’d rather study and spend a lifetime doing. As of right now, I am extremely excited to pursue a Ph.D in Aerospace Engineering, with an emphasis on spacecraft propulsion technology. People always joke about the difficulty of “rocket science,” but it is my passion and I find it absolutely fascinating. Difficulty is nothing when matched with my enthusiasm, curiosity, and perseverance.
As soon as I stumbled across this wonderful program and scholarship, I immediately realized how perfect it was for me, yet at the same time I realized how utterly cliché and ridiculous I would sound writing that my dream had always been to work for NASA. I tried to come up with some similar, alternate career goal to write here, but I realized there was not anything else I truly would be so excited about. NASA would offer me the opportunities to pursue the kind of spacecraft design and research that no company, focused primarily on profits, could. I don’t want to simply make money and work in the field – I want to advance it.
To spend my life tackling problems that others have dismissed as nearly impossible, such as antimatter rockets and space settlement, would be a dream come true. I have the stubborn tenacity and fervent desire to achieve my goals and thus there is no field I would shine in more than aerospace engineering. I may never invent the warp drive or a spaceship that defies physics like I have fantasized about as a result of excessive exposure to science fiction, but I do know one thing – when I see the clear sky at night, the shiny stars beckon me and I cannot resist trying.
They awarded me the scholarship – meant to spur good students into the aerospace industries. Judging by this blog’s focus, perhaps I didn’t turn out quite the way they hoped. (But to their credit, the scholarship staff were always incredibly supportive.)
It would be nice to say I’d become a little more realistic with my ambitions. But I appear to have a penchant for struggling for impossible dreams. I’ve just switched planets.