Throughout my childhood, the night skies in India held a fascination for

Throughout my childhood, the night skies in India held a fascination for me. There was no light pollution, simply beautiful stars glowing in the night sky. Like any ordinary 2nd-grade child, I pondered, visualizing deep into space thinking about the clusters of stars, and galaxies billions of light years away from us: are we alone in the mysterious universe? My mind rustled, filled with unquenchable questions about space as I wanted to know more and more.

During my 6th grade, with hard work and dedication in my classes, my school nominated me to compete in the district’s science exhibition. Recalling the inspiring voyage of three men to the unknown land of the moon piqued my interest in building a model of the Apollo Saturn V for the exhibition. As time went by, I did not hesitate to start researching and preparing for the event. With the help of my science teacher, Mrs. Rajani, and thanks to my parents, I was satisfied with the model of Apollo Saturn V. The excitement for the model overrode all the hard work I faced. Seeing my finalized Apollo Saturn V model, my eyes were filled with awe as I imagined the little me astronaut zipping through space, far beyond anything humankind had ever explored before.

Passing by, the day had finally come. After completing my last-minute preparations, I was ready to showcase my model to the competition. “Number 2505, you are on stage next.” I was being presented to 50 people as my audience. Among them were two judges. The prospect of public speaking must seem terrifying to a 12-year-old, but my exposure to public environments prepared me for the exhibition. Confidently, I started presenting my model and discussing the different aspects of each function of the rocket and concluding with Neil Armstrong’s famous quote, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Upon winning second place, high praise from everyone surrounded me on stage. Gazing at my model, I felt very proud of what I had accomplished.

As a result of that experience, the dream of becoming an astronaut sparked right in front of me.

Taking rigorous courses early on in math and science helped me gain insight and understand how things worked efficiently. I also used to spend my leisure time utilizing research projects and learning about the new knowledge scientists or satellites had to offer to the world. During the summer of my junior year, I was selected to volunteer at the NASA Houston Space Center. This helped me fulfill my dream of meeting two astronauts, both of whom were aerospace engineers. Taking advantage of this opportunity allowed me to enquire about my questions and receive satisfying answers from them.

My ambition is to attain a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering and work for companies such as Boeing, SpaceX, or NASA in the process of becoming an astronaut. The journey would certainly take 500 light years, but with my Apollo Saturn V, I am certain I can get there.