Sophomore shoots for the stars
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As sophomore Gabrielle Lambert looks around the visitor’s check-in office at NASA, nerves and rapid thoughts clutter her mind. She wonders if she will be able to have intelligent conversations with such smart people. Will this experience live up to her expectations? Will this further fuel her love of astronomy? After saying a prayer in hopes of calming her anxious spirit, she hears astrophysicist Dr. Joel Coley call her name and offer to show her around.
Lambert recently had the opportunity to visit NASA and shadow with Coley who, in addition to being an astrophysicist, is currently studying to get a degree in Binary Star Systems. Due to his knowledge of space and stars, Lambert was able to learn a substantial amount of knowledge from his experiences.
During the shadow experience, Coley, “showed me around and told me what they do,” Lambert said. She learned about the different jobs that astrophysicists perform at NASA, and she was also able to meet many new people including scientists and other astronomers. While she was nervous at first, these feelings faded as her shadow experience continued. “I was able to relax meeting new people that shared the [same] passion [as me],” she said.
Because of her deep love of space and science, Lambert was “very proud” to have this opportunity. “I have always been interested [in astronomy] and I have always wanted to be a scientist,” she said. A visit to Kennedy Space Center last summer further ignited Lambert’s interest in astronomy and inspired her to pursue the shadow opportunity at NASA.
Her experience at NASA surprised her, however, because many of the people working there, such as Coley, had desk jobs and did not go into the field. She was surprised to discover that the workers, “write proposals, analyze data, and take pictures with telescopes.”
Thanks to the opportunity she had at NASA and what she learned about the job of an astrophysicist, Lambert discovered that she does not want to be an astronomer in the future. “I know that I don’t want to be an astronomer. It will always be a passion of mine, but I don’t want to be stuck behind a desk,” she said.
Although Lambert does not want to pursue astronomy as a career, it will always be very important to her. “I love space. I love looking at the sky at night [because] it’s beautiful, and reminds me that Earth is not the center of the universe,” she said, “it lets people know that there is more to life than what we see, there is more than just us.”
Taylor Bynion is a Copy Editor for The Patriot and jcpatriot.com.