LUFKIN, TX (Press Release) Angelina College Kristen Alamo of Lufkin confesses she's a small-town girl. As such, she says, she hasn't been completely aware of life outside East Texas as far as future employment opportunities go.
So when Alamo visited NASA's Johnson Space Center with other AC students as part of the National Community College Aerospace Scholars program, she had to admit the experience was more than a little eye-opening.
"This really shows us what an education can do for me," Alamo, a biochemistry major, said. "Sometimes we make our world so small, we don't realize what's waiting for us. But college has exposed me to so many opportunities and ideas, things like NASA, and I've learned so much more about myself and the chances I have to work in such an amazing field."
With fellow AC students Brandon West of Broaddus, Jacob Johnson of Diboll and Floyd Brock of Corrigan, Alamo attended the annual NCAS convention in which a select group of community college students immerse themselves in all that is NASA. With Angelina College instructor Dr. Sally Haas leading the way, Alamo and the others learned that the people who wear those official NASA badges weren't – and still aren't – any different from the college students they're greeting.
"That's one of the main factors in making me realize that this could be so much more than a dream," Alamo said. "These people are just like me, and they've encouraged me enough to realize that I could actually, literally shoot for the stars.
The students listened to guest speaker Jared Woodfill, a Rice graduate who helped bring home the crew of the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission. They visited with some of the safety divers from the Negative Buoyancy Lab who accompany astronauts on every dive – and watched as a pair of astronauts exited the water in full space suit.
The tour also included stops at both the historical and current Mission Control rooms. Students viewed the enormous room where the space station and shuttle mock-ups train astronauts to work in space. They also learned of the now-defunct Constellation program, originally scheduled to replace the space shuttle but shelved by recent budget cuts.
Finally, the students joined teams composed of other community college students from around the state in a team exercise. Their mission: To design a lunar rover using the budget and available components. Each team member served in a specific capacity; each had input into how to build a functioning module while remaining under-budget. Later, they'd test their rovers against the other teams.
This year's champ was the Red Team, of which West, a computer engineering major, was a part.
"I'm getting so much team experience from this," West said. "Normally, any time I've been assigned a project, I did it myself. This time it's an entire group, and we're all working together very well."
Any particular experience stick out?
"The computers they're using here really freaked me out. One of my goals is to find a way to work here."
West and Alamo are recent high school graduates. Brock, on the other hand, graduated from Corrigan-Camden High School in 1998 and spent several years in the work force before a company layoff left him one of the work force casualties seeking a new career. At Angelina College, he discovered the possibilities involved with engineering.
And at NASA, Brock learned that anything is achievable – and possibly not as complicated as he'd thought.
"The best nugget of information I've gotten is everything that's actually involved in the engineering process," Brock said "I think some people tend to oversimplify things, and maybe think it's easier than it really is. In my mind, it's the opposite. I've looked at areas like this and thought, 'I could never do that. It looks way too hard.'
"But here, I've gotten to see how everything is interconnected. It's not one person doing all the work; it's an entire group of people working together for a common goal, and that simplifies it much more than the way I thought of it."
Johnson, a Diboll graduate currently residing in Pollok, saw in his visit a key capable of opening countless doors in his future.
"The internships they're offering are phenomenal," Johnson said." They have internships for multiple fields, and I didn't know anything about them until I came here. I'd thought about working in civil engineering, but this trip has me thinking maybe I need to change to industrial engineering just to take advantage of all the opportunities."
Asked if he could actually envision himself as a NASA employee, Johnson replied emphatically, "Oh yeah. I don't have anything in particular in mind yet, just anywhere they'd want to put me.
"Hey, I'd cut grass just to work for NASA."
Angelina College Graphic Arts Students Exhibiting Work:
Angelina College Graphic Arts students will present some of their best work in an exhibition scheduled to open April 27th and run through May 12th in the Angelina Center for the Arts gallery.
Students from COMM 1318 Photography, which is a black and white, wet chemistry basic photography class, will present some of their photographic projects completed during the spring semester.
The projects were designed to help students learn certain concepts in photography such as controlling depth of field, understanding directional lighting, how to convey motion in a still image, as well as paying attention to the photographic composition.
The students in Jan Anderson-Paxson¹s COMM 1318 Photography.001 are Audrey Andrews, Heather Claassen, Andrew Cockrell, Holle Cole, Joli Crow-Fanning, Shelley Dance, Julio Flores, Michael Gumm, Kyria Hicks, Whitney Kanke, Angela Karber, Ben Kent, Mark Krueger, Marcus Reed, Shelby Ricks, Thelma Trejo and Jesse Williamson. The students in COMM 1318
Photography.002 are Ashley Barthold, Jacque Fleming, Michael Fowler, Brandon Hampton, Sarah Hendrey, Tonya Jones, Latasha Lacy, Vicente Marrero, Jennifer Olivares, Luis Ortiz and Amanda Welch.
Anderson-Paxson¹s publishing class, ARTC 1413 Digital Publishing I, will also show work completed during the spring semester in the exhibit. Some of their projects consisted of producing a T-shirt design for the Angelina College team in the Relay for Life event, layout designs for the college magazine AC View and other projects such as designs for CD covers and posters. The students in ARTC 1413 Digital Publishing I are Angie Alvarado, Heather Claassen, Holle Cole, Catherine Evans, Tonya Jones, Mayra Leos, Selma Morales, Amanda Nichols, Alejandra Padierna, Branden Selman, Kaiser Traylor, Thelma Trejo and Carrli Webb.
Students in Reg Reynolds¹ Digital Imaging I class will exhibit works involving fashion photography, food styling and product photography. Those students include Jane Bennett, Heather L Claassen, Andrew Cockrell, Holle Cole, Yonathan Cruz, Shelley Gwen Dance, Whitney Kanke, Arely Morales, Alejandra Padierna, Reed Porterfield, Shelby Janelle Ricks, and Jesse Williamson.
Students in Reynolds¹ Object Oriented Computer Art create illustrations for movie posters, along with package design and construction. Those students include Angie Veronica Alvarado, Shelli K Carlson, Holle Cole, Yonathan Cruz, Shannon Doyle, Catherine Evans, Jacque Fleming, Hank Dylan Gainer, Logan Garrett, Brandon Deone Hampton, Chanice Shelby Johnson, Mayra Alexandra Leos, Amanda Sue Nichols, Reed Porterfield, Jermile Reed, Heather Shae Rendon, Lindsey Stell, Thelma Trejo, Maricela Venegas, Amanda Welch, and Melanie Wernick.
Libby Stapleton¹s Editing and Layout course is the beginning class in publishing, in which students learn about the history of design, typography, the basic design principles, editing their work, choosing paper and ink and designing logos, business cards, résumés, magazine pages, newsletters, newspapers and brochures.