Whitefish River First Nation resident selected for US space camp

Sara Gardner, a Whitefish River resident, has been selected to attend a U.S. Space Camp.

BIRCH ISLAND—Sara Gardner, a Whitefish River First Nation resident is on the trip of a lifetime to the Honeywell Leadership Challenge (HLCA) at the US Space and Rocket Centre Camp in Alabama.

“We’re very proud of her,” stated Lisa Gardner, Sara’s mother, earlier this week of her daughter who is attending the camp and could not be contacted in time for this week’s press deadline.

Lisa Gardner is a full-time employee with the company Honeywell in Sudbury. Her mother explained Ms. Gardner was selected after applying for the Honeywell Leadership Challenge Academy program. Children of full-time employees of the company can apply. “It is a program available through the company and Sara had to send in essay questions, a letter from her school including her marks and a reference letter from her teachers.”

“Sara is among seven Canadians on the trip, along with people from around the world,” said Ms. Gardner. “She’s rooming with a girl from the UK and there are people from India, the US, Indonesia, South Africa and other parts of the world.

After her daughter had completed and filled in all the application and paper work to be considered for the space camp her mother explained, “she had to wait two months until she found out she was one of the finalists chosen. She was very excited to be informed she was one of the people chosen to go to the space camp.”

Sara is a Grade 12 student at St. Charles College and every mark in her classes has been above 90 percent—her average grade is 95. “She has always been focused on sciences,” said her mother.

The Honeywell Leadership Challenge Academy provides students with an opportunity to increase their interest in the study of science, technology, engineering and mathematics as well as prepare them for university. Students earn a university credit after completing the program.

The program includes 45 hours of classroom, laboratory and field training. Students also participate in simulated astronaut training, which includes a realistic shuttle mission and the opportunity to experience what it’s like to walk on the moon and tumble in a space capsule; stress-inducing and time-sensitive physical challenges; simulated jet-fighter pilot-training; and rocket construction.

About 320 students from 45 countries and 27 states are taking part over the two consecutive week run of the program from February 25 to March 10.

Sara said in the essay she had to prepare for the program, “I believe this program is a once in a lifetime opportunity, both educationally and personally. Educationally, from this program I hope to gain a better understanding of science and math and how it applies in the real world and to space. With all my current knowledge limited to what I’ve read in books and textbooks and what my teachers have to offer, I hope to see how I can use my current and new knowledge in the real world instead of seeing it played out on paper.”

“Along with wanting to prove my current knowledge, I also plan to increase my math and science skills,” wrote Sara. “I’ve always had a fascination for space and this program is a good way for me to learn about it from trained professionals and people who know what they’re talking about rather than just assuming for myself.”

“Personally, I hope to gain the experience of a lifetime. I know that not everyone will get to experience this in their life and I hope I get to make the most of it and create memories that will never fade. I also hope that I’ll be able to learn from other people from across the world to learn about their points of view and that are different from my own. I also hope to learn how to work together well with a team of people whom I’ve never met before. Putting trust in a new group of people to work together with me to do something that we are all collectively interested is something I wish to experience in their program. From this, I also hope to form new friendships and bonds with people from across the world.”

“My plans for the future at this point are clear to me,” Sara wrote. “Educationally, next year I plan to attend university to get a Bachelor of Sciences in Forensics.  After that I plan to work in a forensic lab as a forensic chemist for either the RCMP or local police force.” She noted, “since I was younger I have always wanted to work in a lab and have always been interested in chemistry and crime shows. I’m inspired to use my skills in chemistry to help the police solve crimes and help the families of those people get peace.”

Lisa also wrote, “I believe that this program will help me prepare for my future because it is a program based around math and science,  which are the fields I plan to be working with in my future. I expect that it will show me how to deal with applying my knowledge in a formal setting. Also, because the program also centres around teamwork, I believe it will help me to learn to work well as a part of a team instead of doing everything by myself. The teamwork taught to me in this program could help me to better understand how to get along with the people I’ll have to work with in my future and teach me to trust their judgement as well as my own.”

“This program could also help me to solidify my plans for the future in the scientific field and reassure  my interests in science and math. Also, gaining a university credit for having fun with science could potentially help my future in university,” Sara added.

Ms. Gardner is originally from Whitefish River and now lives in Garson.