Thursday, January 31, 2019

You’ve been selected. 
You’ve been accepted. 
You are invited.

You're selected, accepted, invited. Those simple words can change the course of a student’s life. Whether it’s being selected for an internship, accepted to a college, or being invited to participate in an elite study program, a door has opened and anything can happen next.

The door that opened for Reynolds Computer Science student Emily Krause was an invitation to participate in NASA’s National Community College Aerospace Scholars (NCCAS) program.

First, a little bit about Emily Krause. Emily is an artist and engineer rolled in to one. She is a self-confessed “goody two-shoes” who swam, played oboe in the band, and clarinet in the marching band during high school. She continued her education at Ohio University where she got a degree in Visual Communication. During her breaks at Ohio she attended Northern Virginia Community College. She loved computers, and realized a degree in computer science would be better fit.

Emily moved to Richmond and works two jobs now, but still didn’t earn enough money to go back to school. Financial Aid made it possible for her to continue her education at Reynolds. She says, “I’m just glad I had options. I couldn’t have afforded to do this without help.”

With the encouragement of Professor of Information Systems Technology Catherine Thomas, Emily applied to the NASA community college program. This program is open to community college students, like Emily, pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). To be eligible to apply they must be enrolled in, or have completed more than nine hours of STEM coursework. They must be recommended by a professor, and must submit a 300-word essay. But, that’s just the start.

Doors like the NASA program don’t open without work and dedication. Once selected as a potential candidate for the program, the next step is to participate in an “online experience.” This five-week, web-based program requires about 20 hours of work, including interaction with other students around the country, webinars with NASA engineers and scientists, and completion of a unique project. If a student is successful in this online “interview”, then they MAY, like Emily, be invited to attend the “onsite experience” held at a NASA facility. Being invited to go “onsite” is a great honor, and is a once in a lifetime experience. Students post videos and pictures of themselves holding signs reading: I’M GOING TO NASA. They expect the experience to be amazing, and they are not disappointed.

Emily will spend four days at the NASA Langley site in Norfolk where she will work on a team project mentored by NASA engineers, attend their briefings, tour the facilities, and compete in a rover building competition. During the four days students will be strongly encouraged to complete their two-year degrees and to transfer to a four-year university to continue their studies and pursue a NASA-related career.

The program will give Emily the chance to build relationships with other students and the NASA mentors. She will see what it’s like to work not just as a scientist, but as a scientist at NASA. NASA pays for Emily’s travel, hotels, meals, and any other fees. Past participants say the program is exciting, challenging, that the scientists and engineers are passionate and love sharing their knowledge, and that the hands-on experience is exceptional. They also say the food is great, so Emily should eat well!

Congratulations, Emily! Well done. We look forward to hearing about your four days at NASA.

Interested in applying for this program? Applications for the Fall 2019 program open February 20 and close May 15, 2019. Visit for more information.