Alumni Stories

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Christian Agaba

In 2013, Christian Agaba and his class from Battle Creek Elementary attended STARBASE. As a 5th grade student, he wrote “I learned about how Mars is different than Earth and I learned that if we were to go to Mars, what things we would need and how to prevent the dangers of Mars to go on effect on us. You don’t always get everything right on the first try. You have to follow the engineering design process [EDP] to get something you are making to perfection.”

Today, Christian has opportunities to practice the engineering design process as a Mechanical Engineering student at the University of Minnesota. He explained that his experience at STARBASE was incredibly impactful and helped him steer toward his future in STEM!

With an intensive course load this semester, we asked Christian how he will get through difficult classes. He explained that reaching out to others, even if they don’t know the answers, is reassuring. You know you’re not alone and can work together to search for resources. He appreciates hearing different perspectives and working through challenges with classmates, especially when working in Materials Science!

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Jazmine Hawkins


Jazmine Hawkins, who attended STARBASE most recently in
2015, with a callsign of “Rocky”, is now applying her entrepreneurial spirit and her leadership skills that she began to hone at STARBASE toward a future career in Cosmetology and Sports Management. She expects to graduate in 2025. Jazmine is a first-generation college student attending West Los Angeles College and is the latest recipient of a $1,000 scholarship thanks to Collins Aerospace! 


Jazmine grew up playing sports and is currently playing both basketball and volleyball at West Los Angeles College. On the court she works
hard, and her mantra is “look good, feel good, play good.” This is
exactly where the intersection of Jazmine’s interest in cosmetology and sports management came to be, addressing an unmet need for female athletes. Jazmine noted just how much chemistry and math are involved in this applied area of STEM, noting that when she is working with clients, she must consider the different environments of the athletes. This impacts the chemical formula for product performance and for the athletes to feel their best, and ultimately play their best.    

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Pheng Xiong


At the corner where hard work and perseverance meet, you’ll find Pheng Xiong. “STARBASE inspired me to think differently and achieve goals that others hadn’t considered at the time.” Pheng explained that when everyone at STARBASE was designing “normal” turbine blades at STARBASE, he was attempting to make his look like a flying pig. Even at an early age he was finding ways to think differently to reach his goals. We congratulate Pheng on being selected as a very deserving recipient of a STARBASE Minnesota Scholarship funded by Collins Aerospace in 2022-23 awarded to STARBASE alumni enrolled in post-secondary education.

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Gabriella Vanda

“I never expected STARBASE to have such an impact on my life all these years later,” exclaimed Gabriella Vanda, a first-year student at Century College and a recipient of one $1,000 scholarship from STARBASE Minnesota funded by a special grant from Collins Aerospace.

Gabriella was the first to graduate high school in her household and, as the oldest among her siblings, the first to go to college, too.  She was the top 100 in her high school class graduating with an A- average. “That was a really big step for me and my family.  I wanted to show my younger sisters that if I can do it, they can make a good future for themselves, too.” 

When recalling her time at STARBASE with Battle Creek Elementary School, she said “I remember designing a rocket with 3D-printed fins. It was cool watching the 3D printer make our stuff. I loved seeing my ideas come to life in front of me.” When at STARBASE, she went by the call sign “Paris” because of her love of France. She still dreams of taking a trip to France one day with an aunt who has had a great influence on her life. Although she felt science wasn’t always her strongest class, she said that “the hands-on activities at STARBASE really made me like science a lot more: STARBASE expanded what I wanted to be.” Now, Gabriella is on a path towards a STEM career as a student at Century College.

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Ben Broich

STARBASE has a lasting impact on students who come through the program, and this could not be more true for “Secret Agent 22 Jr”, Ben Broich, the most recent recipient of a $1,000 scholarship from STARBASE Minnesota funded by a special grant from Collins Aerospace. Ben attributes his love for hands-on STEM to STARBASE and still has his rocket that he built in 5th grade. He loved the experiments at STARBASE and said the experience felt like magic to him. Fast forward 8 years to today as Ben is pursuing a Chemical Engineering degree at the University of Minnesota and aspires to help others and make a difference in the world by making processes more productive and efficient.


Secret agent 22 Jr attests that “STARBASE helped me to grasp the

idea of what it meant to be an engineer and inspired me to begin solving problems in systematic ways.” As a 5th grader at STARBASE, he was able to conduct experiments that were hands-on and that sparked his interest and made him want to do more. “If I hadn’t had that experience, I don’t know that I would have known that I really wanted to pursue STEM.”


Chemical engineering degrees require some challenging courses and Ben is facing them head on. When he was in high school, Ben found himself drawn to chemistry and felt that is what he wanted to do as far as a career. Ben felt that adding engineering would open more pathways for him, however, he is still deciding if he wants to do more chemical research or more on the industrial side.


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Alex Vang

Alexander Vang, callsign “Batman”, loved the teamwork he experienced at STARBASE back in 2014. Along with his classmates from Farnsworth Aerospace Elementary School, he remembers having his STARBASE instructor’s encouragement while designing his rocket fin in CAD. Today, Alex has just begun his pursuit of higher education at St. Paul College, where he loves the teamwork approach.  He says the faculty emphasize communication and working together to achieve goals.

With dreams of working in computer science after graduation in a few years, Alex knows technology is the future, and he remembers his coding and robotics experience in his STARBASE classroom! Another favorite memory was applying the engineering process in order to save his 3D printed astronaut from the force of inertia as it landed on Mars (aka slid down the zipline in the classroom).

Alex is a recent recipient of a STARBASE Minnesota Scholarship funded by Collins Aerospace in 2022-23 awarded to STARBASE alumni enrolled in post-secondary education and we are proud to support his educational and career pursuits in STEM.  Alex will be the first member of his family to attend college and they are proud of his hard work and dedication. 

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Jessica Scott

Students in front of a plane.
Jessica is the student standing on the left in the second row.

“I learned about flight technology. I learned about Newton and his three laws. I learned all about airplanes so I could grow up to be a big smart scientist.”

 – Static Shock, 2005, STARBASE Minnesota- St. Paul

Fast forward to 2022, STARBASE Minnesota is fortunate to have Jessica “Static Shock” Scott as a member of the STARBASE instructor team. Jessica now goes by Artemis, drawing inspiration from NASA’s lunar missions.

Jessica attended STARBASE Minnesota- St. Paul in 2005 with St. Agnes Grade School. Experiencing the flight simulator and touring airplanes left strong impressions. Jessica remembers how it felt to fly a plane in the simulator and learn facts about different aircraft. One classmate of hers now works for Cirrus installing flight controls on aircrafts and fixing non-airworthy problems. Another memory that stands out for Jessica was working in small groups to design a solution to an emergency in space. She remembers the feeling of solving the engineering problem as a team, drawing on each other’s strengths.

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Leslie Rivera

Not every student knows exactly what they want to be when they grow up like Leslie Rivera did. When she attended STARBASE as a 5th grade student, Leslie noted her desire to become a nurse on a pre- and post-survey.

We congratulate Leslie on being selected as one of two 2021 recipients of The STARBASE Minnesota General Tim Cossalter Scholarship. She is currently pursuing her dream of becoming a nurse at The College of Saint Scholastica in Duluth!

Leslie attended STARBASE Minnesota with Achieve Language Academy, a Saint Paul charter school. As an elementary school student, she recognized how much she learned, recapping in her survey some of her favorite lessons doing the work of a young scientist and engineer exploring Mars.

These days, Leslie shows dedication to her studies in anatomy and physiology lab, and dedication to serving others while working as a certified nursing assistant at a local care facility. She appreciates the opportunity to learn in class, then practice her skills at work!

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Evan Most

It’s a beautiful thing when a career and a passion come together. It is without a doubt that former STARBASE student Evan Most is pursuing his passion for aviation and we are pleased to congratulate him on being selected as one of two 2021 scholarship recipients of The STARBASE Minnesota General Tim Cossalter Scholarship. 

Evan is currently studying Commercial Aviation at the University of North Dakota, following his dream of becoming a pilot. He worked towards and earned his private pilot license in the summer of 2019. Evan is enrolled in Instrument Training at UND, learning how to fly in situations with zero visibility. He has loved his flight courses because he is able to work in the airplane and gain flight time. Private pilot class has been his favorite class so far in furthering his education; he has been fortunate to have great teachers, flight instructors, and resources. Evan has already faced many challenging written, oral, and flight tests. He has persevered with a lot of studying.

Currently in his training, Evan is flying a Piper Archer plane and simulator, working towards flying a multi-engine Piper Seminole. His favorite plane that he looks forward to flying one day is a Boeing 777 aircraft. He will graduate in 2-2 ½ years and hopes to become a commercial airline pilot for Delta, or any other major airline, with hubs out of Minnesota.

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Ruhi Doshi

“STARBASE gave me confidence to keep pursuing my passion and helped me realize my dream job as an astroinformatics scientist.” Ruhi Doshi recollects a pivotal moment in her STEM journey- attending STARBASE Minnesota’s Next Generation summer program. Today Ruhi is even closer to achieving her dream job. She studies data science at the University of California, Berkeley where she contributes to dark energy research, participates in the statistics association, and even helps teach a data science course.

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Maya Steen

STARBASE Minnesota Alum Maya “Nova” Steen attended STARBASE’s 2011 and 2012 Next Generation summer programs through a STARBASE partnership with Microsoft and other local STEM corporations.  Maya recalls a positive and validating STEM learning environment where students worked to take on real world problems.  “STARBASE really helped me gain confidence and not be afraid of big questions, tough challenges, and finding creative solutions to problems. All the adults, the teachers and staff, took the kids seriously. I felt like I was a real scientist for the first time.”

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Angela Lenling

STARBASE Minnesota alum Angela Lenling attended STARBASE in 2013 with Battle Creek Elementary School, St. Paul Public Schools.  She always had enjoyed STEM and space and after attending STARBASE recalls, “I came back and thought, I want to do that every day to learn even more. It was really exciting to go to STARBASE for the whole week. That was the best field trip I’ve ever been on because I learned completely new things every day and it was super exciting!”

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Emily Berg

Name: Airman First Class, A1C, Emily Berg
Call Sign: “Torque”
Year at STARBASE: 2009
Interviewed by: Santi Bromley, STARBASE Instructor & Military Volunteer Engagement
Date: December 12, 2017

Santi: Tell me a little about what you have done since you participated in STARBASE in 2009. Read More

Michael Efejuku

Michael Efejuku attended STARBASE with Risen Christ Catholic School as a 4th grader in 2006 and 6th grader in 2008.  He has fond memories of building and launching rockets, viewing airplanes, and using the 3D printer. He remembers leaving STARBASE amazed by science and all of its applications.  Michael later attended DeLaSalle High School in Minneapolis, graduating in 2014. While at DeLaSalle, he continued to build off of his experience at STARBASE, by joining the school’s science club. Read More

Houa Moua

“In 8th grade I attended Washington Technology Middle School. I signed up for an elective class in engineering and city planning. As the only girl in the class, I was shy and afraid because I viewed my intelligence as something not “up-to-par” with boys. I remember the encouragement that girls can solve “big-world” problems just as equally as boys can.  During this time, I was also an English language learner. There was tremendous stress and pressure for me academically, socially, and culturally.  Trying to learn English and excel in my engineering class took a lot of effort. I wasn’t talented in it naturally like my peers, but I knew that if I worked hard to learn, I could excel in it.  Looking back, I felt that STARBASE helped prepare in me, a heart for learning.” Read More

Annie Francis

The second recipient of the Brigadier General Tim Cossalter STARBASE Minnesota Scholarship is Annie Francis. Annie attended STARBASE with St. Bernard’s Elementary School as a 4th grader in 2006 and a 6th grader in 2008.

At the time that Annie attended STARBASE, she found that school was challenging.  She had to work harder than most students because of a learning disability. “STARBASE was an amazing opportunity for me. I have a learning disability that makes it very difficult to read and write. The hands-on learning that happened at STARBASE made learning exciting and fun. I could understand what I was doing because I was actually doing it!”.  Read More