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!
Sharing his wisdom with this year’s class of STARBASE students, Christian says “Keep your imagination open and wild as you keep growing up. We need bright thinkers in the future!”
Christian 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 him as he pursues greatness in STEM. We know he will do great things!
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.
Much of this involves trial and error, Jazmine explained, something she remembers experiencing at STARBASE when she designed and tested her rocket. “With the first design, I failed miserably, but it was okay because I could go back, fix it, and try something new to see how it worked.” Jazmine credits STARBASE as the place where she learned you don’t have to be perfect, and you can learn from what doesn’t work. She is appreciative of the opportunities that STARBASE gave her as an elementary student. At STARBASE, “we had access to experiences and technologies that we otherwise wouldn’t have had.”
Jazmine is the oldest of four siblings, and all of them went through STARBASE and have fond, shared memories of their experiences at STARBASE. Being the oldest and first in her family to go to college, Jazmine realizes she is a role model for her siblings who see her going to college and are now starting to dream about their own futures. “Being Mexican American, we aren’t really told to go to college, and I didn’t want that to be my story”, Jazmine goes on to explain that extra education is so important and goes a very long way. That nurturing style and support that Jazmine has with her siblings also shines through with the coaching in volleyball and basketball that she does when she is not working to pay for college. It is also core to her pursuits in Sports Management to work with the whole athlete, emotional and physical. “My athletes will always know I see them”, Jazmine relayed, as she talked about the deep investment she has in them and will continue to have as she inspires and leads the next generation.
Congratulations to Jazmine on her $1,000 scholarship, which she truly deserves! We know that by her challenging herself as she has done throughout her schooling and life and by pursuing her dreams, she will change the lives of those around her for the better.
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.
Pheng attended STARBASE Minnesota with Farnsworth Aerospace Lower School in 2014 as a 4th grader with the callsign of “Pluto” and then again in 2015 as a 5th grader, called “Meteor.” Pheng remembered working with LEGO robots and, while launching rockets, thinking a 2-fin rocket would fly farther than a 3-fin rocket because it was lighter. As an elementary student he was determined to go to space as an astronaut. STARBASE inspired him to think outside of being an astronaut and it helped him to see other options.
On his post-flight survey, Pheng said, “I think STARBASE will help me with math and science more at school.” He now pursues a degree in computer science at The University of Minnesota with plans of inventing AI that surpasses what humans are capable of. And he is off to a great start. In his first semester as a freshman, he is a busy student with an array of honors classes including Honors Calculus II, Honors Physics, and Honors Intro to Programming Concepts. He is following in the footsteps of an inspirational uncle of his who immigrated here from Thailand, faced many challenges, and is now working in computer science. Pheng emphasized the impact of this scholarship, stating that he wants to “be my own person and take care of myself”.
When asked what advice he would give STARBASE students, Pheng encourages students to think about problems differently and to find the fun in all learning. That has been his angle of attack and it shows in his love of learning, in the classes and career path he has chosen, and in thinking big about the possibilities for the future. Congratulations, Pheng!
“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.
Growing up, Gabriella loved watching documentaries and true crime. As a sophomore at Tartan Senior High School, she learned about the career of forensic science in class and was so excited to explore more about it. Presently, she is pursuing her Associates Degree at Century College, taking courses in Ethics, Physical Geography, Police and the Community, and the Criminal Justice System. She mentioned that this field of forensics and crime scene work has consistently drawn her attention, even as she has been moving through her general education classes. In the future, she will continue her education with a 4-year degree in Criminal Justice or forensic science. She envisions being a part of a team of people solving a crime to bring justice and give peace to families.
Gabriella’s kind and caring attributes and desire to help others began in high school when she began volunteering with The Waters of Oakdale: Assisted Living and Memory Care and The Boys and Girls Club. On both ends of the life journey, she loved creating a bond with the elderly during BINGO and reading books, handing out snacks, and interacting
with kids in games. Due to her good grades and work within the community, as a senior in high school she was asked to be a part of the National Honor Society.
In her Intro to the Criminal Justice System class, she commented that she just completed a report about policing in MN. With everything going on in the world right now, she sees this career path as a way to make change and have a positive impact on the world. She says that
she loves her smaller class sizes at Century and that there is really good
balance of gender diversity in the classes and field she is pursuing.
When asked what advice she would give to students as they come to STARBASE, she said “Make the most of your time there. That week goes so fast. Have fun. Don’t make it too serious, and have fun with the people you’re with.” Even Gabriella remembers all the teamwork that takes place in a week at STARBASE!
In awarding Gabriella this scholarship, she beamed and replied “Thank you so much for this opportunity. All my hard work is paying off and I know I will be able to make a difference in the world.”
Gabriella has poured energy and value into her education and will continue to impact the world and community with her pursuit of helping right social and criminal injustices. She has a passion for learning and for people that will guide her through her future career.
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.
When he is not studying or attending classes, Ben enjoys rock climbing, trap shooting, and working with the Solar Vehicle Project at the University of Minnesota. As a team, they are working towards completing their fifteenth car to race in the 2023 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge, which will take place in Australia. Specifically, Ben is part of the solar array subteam, and is currently working closely with club members, as well as 3M personnel to finish encapsulating the solar cell modules that will soon be wired onto the car.
“I hope to influence the trajectory of the world and create an environment that is safe, as well as effective.” Ben wants to pursue a STEM career because he wants a hands-on career where he is able to find solutions to problems that arise. Even back in 5th grade, Secret Agent 22 Jr wrote that “it is important to learn science and engineering because you might run into a problem that involves them.” He wants to make a change in the world by improving the processes of how things, such as medicines, are made. Ben hopes to secure an internship at 3M to continue to learn in the field and have that hands-on learning before graduating with his Chemical Engineering degree and potential Master’s degree in Materials Science.
Congratulations to Ben on receiving this scholarship! We can’t wait to see the difference that you are going to make in this world!
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.
When asked what helps him stay motivated, Alex says he believes in his future and in himself, even when he feels like giving up. Alex’s inspirational advice to future STARBASE students: “Once you get to STARBASE, your experience will skyrocket!”
“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.
The start of the 2021-2022 school year marks Jessica’s seventh year as a teacher. When asked what appealed to her about becoming a STARBASE teacher, Jessica said it was always her dream to come back to STARBASE. A rush of flashbacks of her own experience came to the forefront and she was so excited about the possibility of bringing that same impactful STEM experience to students. Jessica says, “STARBASE had such an impact on me. It is a privilege to teach with that perspective. I want my students to look back at STARBASE and feel the same way I felt as a STARBASE student.”
As a classroom teacher, Jessica always sought to bring STEM into her classroom. However, she says she never had the access to resources and materials now available to her at STARBASE. As a full time STARBASE Instructor and Instructional Technology Coordinator, she enjoys learning about educational technology at a deeper level and working to create meaningful curriculum integration.
STARBASE Minnesota- St. Paul is lucky to have Jessica as part of the team and thankful of her reflections as a former STARBASE student. Thank you, Jessica!
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!
When asked why she chose to pursue this career path, Leslie explained, “Nursing is empowering, and I’ve always wanted to do something very important.” She noted that people recognize her for being caring and compassionate. With cousins who pursued nursing and other medical fields, Leslie is a first generation college student among her immediate family.
Looking back on her time at STARBASE, Leslie remembers airplanes, 3D printers, launching rockets, and getting more interested in science as a result. “Math has to be done one way, but science is my favorite – things change constantly. It’s so interesting how we can think we know something for a long time but then things change and we learn that we were wrong!”
Her advice to this year’s STARBASE students? “Enjoy it! When you’re having fun you don’t realize you’re learning!”
Leslie graduates from The College of St. Scholastica in 2024 and will surely achieve her goal of becoming a registered nurse in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit or in Labor and Delivery. STARBASE Minnesota is proud to count Leslie Rivera among our alumni and we wish her continued success!
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.
During Evan’s time at STARBASE in 2010, he vividly remembers seeing the airplanes outside on his first day. He was able to tour and sit in the cargo area of a C130 and he also specifically remembers seeing the F16, as those airplanes were his favorite at the time. He stated that “STARBASE had a huge impact on my career decision; I was fascinated with the planes I saw at STARBASE. Being able to explore them, I felt like I was a kid in a candy store.” He took away knowledge about parts of the plane such as the fuselage, the forces of flight, and the idea of aerodynamics.
Most will be the first pilot in his family and they are very proud of his achievement. He looks forward to using this scholarship to further pursue his education. He expressed that “it is nice to know that there are other aviation enthusiasts out there and that they are looking to support me in this STEM career field.”
His advice to current STARBASE students? “Pay attention to everything you learn. It is such a once in a lifetime experience, so keep an open mind and find something that interests you that you want to learn a lot about. You will see a lot of cool things, just pay attention to all of it and have fun with it.” We wish Evan all the best with his future endeavors and look forward to seeing him soar to great heights.
“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.
Growing up Ruhi had a passion for science and math, but often felt frustrated being the only girl in the room at most STEM camps. On the first day of a robotics camp, Ruhi walked into a room full of boys who made decisions without her and told her to sit and watch. “I almost ran out crying,” Ruhi recalls. “I remember feeling so frustrated. Just because I may not have had the exposure beforehand didn’t mean I wasn’t capable. It just sucked the fun out of all these supposedly fun summer camps.” Ruhi was ready to give up on math and science, but then, she explains, “When STARBASE happened the first thing I could do was make friends with other girls. It was so refreshing to be able to do that. And that I wasn’t the only person who had these experiences was really empowering to me.”
At STARBASE Ruhi used a 3D printer for the first time and solved problems like an engineer. Working with her teammates, Ruhi tested the strength of shapes to solve a design challenge of building a bridge capable of holding significant weight. After completing the challenge, Ruhi learned that engineers use trusses to build strong structures in real life. “I was just mind blown. That’s the kind of problem solving that is really appealing to me about STEM, about creating new solutions…I’m never going to forget that.” Ruhi learned Pro/Engineer, a computer-aided design modeling software, to design and 3D print rocket fins. “It was just absolutely fascinating,” Ruhi remembers, “to see all of the different shapes my friends and I designed.”
The positive week at STARBASE not only revived Ruhi’s self-efficacy and interest in STEM, but propelled her into advanced learning experiences. The very next year Ruhi’s Engineering Technology and Design teacher offered her more complex projects because of her experience using Pro/Engineer while at STARBASE. Ruhi pursued STEM outside of the classroom by joining Science Olympiad, where she found a community of like-minded STEM enthusiasts. Over the years her role has transitioned from avid participant to leader and mentor, “Now I help write textbooks and test questions, and help proctor the tournament. It’s definitely one of the communities that I really enjoy being a part of.”
While in high school. Ruhi had the chance to conduct research alongside professors at the University of Minnesota, an experience that led her to declare a data science major at the University of California, Berkeley. In addition to taking classes like Data Inference and Decisions Statistics, Ruhi contributes to STEM research as an intern with the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI) Survey. As a member of the software team at DESI, Ruhi works on creating a data quality monitoring application that astronomers use to make sure incoming data is of good quality. Ruhi and her undergraduate teammates had the opportunity to present at the 235th meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Hawaii earlier this year.
When asked what skills she uses most often, Ruhi responds with conviction, “Perseverance is so key. When you see a problem you don’t know how to do, you just try from a different angle or come back after a little while. That’s the whole point, you don’t stop working on a problem if you get stuck.” She goes on to say that teamwork is another key skill, “Science, engineering, and any kind of STEM work, is not done individually. It’s all collaborative. You don’t solve problems on your own, and if you get stuck you go and talk to your teammates and you find out what they would do instead. Find out how to grow and learn those methods yourself so you can help other people too.”
We asked Ruhi to share words of advice with current STARBASE students. She recommends, “Stay involved and keep trying new experiences.” She advocates for students to communicate and support fellow classmates. “STARBASE is a great launching point, being able to talk to other students and not feel shy about asking them what their rocket design looks like, how it’s different from yours, and what shape they think is best to support a bridge. Those are the ways you grow, learn, and keep staying interested in STEM.”
Many thanks to Ruhi for taking the time to reconnect with STARBASE! We enjoyed catching up and hearing about her fantastic STEM experiences. We wish her the best as she continues STEM research, STEM mentoring and teaching, and pursues a career in data analytics!
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.”
Currently, Maya is working toward a bachelor’s degree in astronomy and physics at Boston University. We asked Maya what skills she learned at STARBASE that she still uses in her studies today. She recollects working in teams to find solutions for human survival in the harsh environment of Mars. “We had a big plan that we would make a greenhouse and all these other colony buildings. It was cool to work in small teams, solve problems, and develop our ideas as a group.” Today, Maya uses teamwork in astronomy labs and in her physics study groups. “Being able to work in teams is a key skill to develop as early as you can. Teamwork is one of the most important skills you need in any career path.”
Since she was a young astrophile stargazing with her grandpa in southern Minnesota, Maya has developed skills in technology to learn more about celestial objects, space, and the physical universe. At STARBASE, Maya was introduced to how CAD and 3D printing can help solve STEM challenges. “I remember how new the technology was to me and how cool that was. It felt very exciting and current. Using CAD was the first time I had ever done that kind of learning with computers.” Maya now uses computer programs and telescopes to track Saturn and Betelgeuse in nighttime astronomy labs. “We program the desktop computer in the next room over from the ten-inch telescope. One person focuses the telescope while someone else programs the computer. We usually work in groups of 10 when we’re in the observatory and this is a really fun group.” Maya reports that using the telescopes is one of her favorite parts of college because she enjoys collaborative teamwork and hands-on use of technology.
Today, Maya uses perseverance to work through challenging astronomy and physics concepts, a mindset she developed early on when learning STEM concepts and the engineering design process at STARBASE. “Being able to tackle big questions and find creative solutions is a big deal and we did that a lot at STARBASE.” We asked Maya what words of advice she has for current STARBASE students who are passionate about STEM. She shared, “If you’re interested in it, go for it. Don’t be afraid of it being hard or overwhelming. I’ve found that I’ve learned the most from the hardest classes and the hardest experiences. Don’t back down from the challenges, because you can do it if you persevere and use your skills.”
Maya will graduate from Boston University in 2023. We wish her the best as she continues her studies and look forward to hearing about her future career! Thank you, Maya, for sharing your story with us.
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!”
Currently, Angela is finishing up her senior year in
School District 622 and will join the 208th Weather Flight upon graduation. Weather Flight is a globally separated unit that supports the Army National Guard and the Air National Guard’s pilots and their missions. Angela chose to join the military because of the opportunity to further her STEM knowledge. She was also encouraged by her family’s extensive history of military service.
Angela is excited to begin military and scientific training, which will include boot camp, meteorological training, and hands-on practice with meteorological tools used in Weather Flight operations. After training, Angela will join her fellow service members in the day-to-day operations at 208th Weather Flight. She will provide commanders and pilots with mission execution forecasts, flight weather briefs, long-range forecasts, climatology reports, trafficability forecasts, and all other meteorological requests. Weather Flight can also deploy combat weather teams within 72 hours of notice, something that Angela will most certainly be a part of in the future.
Angela “Sparkly Unicorn” has many memories of STARBASE. She remembers CAD and 3D printing, studying the density of the air by experimenting with hands-on models, and using teamwork and perseverance skills to solve STEM challenges. When asked to name one skill learned at STARBASE she still uses today, Angela reports, “Teamwork was a really important part of learning at STARBASE. Even if something is difficult and might not have an obvious answer, there is always a different way to approach it. We did that a lot at STARBASE. Getting other people’s views and perspectives on a problem is helpful.”
STARBASE motivated Angela to pursue math activities outside of her multivariable calculus class. “I was a member of the math team, which is a team of about twenty people in all grades in high school. We competed with different schools.” Angela viewed each competition as a learning experience. “It was more of a fun challenge instead of being super serious. I liked being with other people on the team and trying to figure out the answers to our problems. It was really fun to see how other people work through issues and problems. I wasn’t disappointed when I didn’t score too well because it was more fun to think about what I know and how can I improve.”
When asked to share advice with current STARBASE students, Angela advises to lean into challenging experiences and to welcome unexpected opportunities. “You’re not always going to be on the path that you want to be. Just keep finding ways to include STEM in your life.” Angela shared that the STEM field is fulfilling because there is always something new to learn. “A STEM career is most interesting because every day is different and always changing. Keep working hard and being interested in things that are challenging. It will help you in more ways than one.”
Thank you, Angela, for your future military service. We appreciate your positive attitude and inspiring story! We wish you all the best as you continue your STEM education and career.
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
A1C Berg: During my senior year of high school, I enlisted in the Air National Guard as an airplane mechanic, graduated high school with honors, and left for basic training and technical school. I was awarded a Commander’s Coin for my high grade point average in my military training, and since then (February 2017) I have gone on multiple TDYs, and have started to further my education at Winona State University with a major in Nursing.
Santi: How did you decide on your nursing major?
A1C Berg: For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to have a career where I could help people. Going to STARBASE really expanded my perspective that there are many ways to do that, and helped me discover my passion for science. Ultimately, I decided that going into a healthcare field was the right fit for me.
Santi: Tell me what you remember about STARBASE.
A1C Berg: I remember showing up to STARBASE on my first day and being very nervous. But soon after we got started I met one of my fellow students named Elastagirl. She and I got along like two peas in a pod. I had so much fun at STARBASE. After making my rocket, I felt so much more confident and knew I wanted to go back the next year, but unfortunately I was too old.
Santi: In the time shortly after completing the STARBASE program, were you motivated to do any further STEM activities?
A1C Berg: After STARBASE I decided that I wanted to start competing in science fairs. I did projects on metal corrosion, buoyancy, psychology, and many other topics.
Santi: Can you identify anything you learned at STARBASE that you still use today?
A1C Berg: The biggest concepts that I learned at STARBASE were critical thinking and problem solving. These concepts are very important in my career and in everyday life.
Santi: What are your plans after you complete your nursing program?
A1C Berg: I would like to go into either psychiatric nursing or aeromedical evacuation after college. Staying involved in the military is very important to me and I would like to continue to be a part of such a great organization.
Santi: How did you end up choosing to go into the military?
A1C Berg: STARBASE showed me that just because you have never done something before, doesn’t mean you can’t. It boosted my confidence and without that confidence I don’t think that I would have been able to progress to where I am now and be able to make the decision to enlist.
Santi: What is the work you do on Maintenance on the flight line at the 133rd?
A1C Berg: I do a wide variety of tasks on the flight line. I do anything from refueling and servicing different systems on planes, to changing tires and other important parts to inspecting and preparing the planes for the aircrews that get to fly them.
Santi: How has being in the military impacted your life?
A1C Berg: Being in the military has impacted my life a ton. It is the best decision I have ever made. It has let me travel to places I didn’t think I would ever go, taught me not only about planes, but about other people and myself, and given me a supportive community that is always willing to give me a hand when I need it.
Santi: Do you have any advice for current STARBASE students as they complete the program and look to their futures?
A1C Berg: Be creative! Don’t just try to do what everyone else is doing – think outside the box.
We are thrilled by the inspiration that A1C Emily “Torque” Berg found from her experience at STARBASE Minnesota as a student attending in 2009 and we hope that the students who go through the STARBASE program are as equally inspired in their approach to education, training and life. Thank you, A1C Emily for your service to our country, and for being such an outstanding role model to the thousands of students who participate in our STARBASE now and in the years to come.
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
Michael is now a student at the University of Saint Thomas studying Mechanical Engineering where he is active in research related to bubble size in sprays. He is also on the school’s Board for the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and a member of St. Thomas’s Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFROTC). In the future, Michael looks forward to joining the Air Force after college and would like to work in the biomedical field with technologies such as prosthetics.
When asked what advice he has for current STARBASE students as they complete the program and look to their futures, he says “It is a valuable program to be in, the hands-on component is important, embrace it and don’t be afraid to fail.” This is certainly sage advice for the over 3,500 students who come through STARBASE each academic year.
“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
“Stemming from my exposure to STARBASE and my middle school class, I pursued Urban Studies as my major during my undergrad because I wanted to learn more about the urbanization in America and its systems. When I graduated, I was given the opportunity to work at CAPI USA, first as an AmeriCorps Employment Navigator. Then I moved to a case aide position and finally moved on to becoming an employment counselor. I am now working with a state program called the “Minnesota Family Investment Program”, which is an adaptation of the federal “Temporary Assistance for Needy Families” program, also known as TANF. This program is designed to help needy families achieve self-sufficiency. What I do and what these programs do are so much more than just words on a piece of paper. At CAPI, I specifically work with refugee and immigrant families. Through my experience working there I got to see how policy-making and economics played a huge role in my community and in people’s lives.”
“Today, I am pursuing education as a graduate student at the University of St. Thomas in their Collaborative Urban Educator program (CUE) to become an English language teacher. During the fall of 2015, I returned to STARBASE as a pre-service teacher. I was so excited to visit the very place that started it all. Through my experiences there, I now have a different view looking at STARBASE from when I was a student. As a student I just wanted to have fun and learn. Now, with the eyes of an educator and community leader, I want to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of a program– I want to solve problems and identify them. And from that, I am able to learn and improve my ways too.”
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
After graduating from East Ridge in 2014, Annie attended Winona State University where she majored in Business, but later transferred to the University of Minnesota to study Early Childhood Education, a path that will allow her share what she has learned about perseverance in learning and education. In the future Annie hopes to teach kindergarten in an urban environment.
When asked what advice she has for current STARBASE students, Annie says “Enjoy the experience and look for similar programs, so that you can continue to learn.” These are truly wise words from someone who embodies dedication and perseverance in learning.