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Reach for the Stars


Jim Lovell astronaut, naval aviator, mechanical engineer, and one of the first three humans to orbit the moon, once said, “There are people who make things happen, there are people who watch things happen, and there are people who wonder what happened. To be successful, you need to be a person who makes things happen.”

A seventh-grader at Notre Dame Academy thinks the same way.

Mariana, a seventh-grader at Notre Dame Academy conducts a Zoom interview with NASA engineer Sarah D’Souza.

Miss Stachowski teaches a Life and Career Skills class at Notre Dame Academy’s Okell Middle School Campus in Buffalo. Recently, she assigned a research project as part of her unit on Careers. One piece of the project, aside from researching a career path, was to find and conduct an interview with someone who currently works in that field.

Mariana, one of Miss Stachowski’s students, took this assignment very seriously. Mariana has an interest in becoming an aerospace engineer. So, where else do you look for an aerospace engineer other than NASA? That is just what she did! Mariana sent an email to NASA explaining her project, interests and passion for the field and politely asked for an interview. Despite her parents, and her own doubts, NASA replied and Mariana, a seventh-grade student, interviewed an actual engineer responsible for the cutting edge technology for missions to the moon and Mars.

“It felt surreal to receive a reply from NASA,” confesses Marianna. “I never thought they would answer me at all. To see that someone cared enough to answer an email from a student and set up a time for a Zoom meeting made me feel excited and nervous and professional.”

Mariana continues, “By speaking with Sarah D’Souza, an aerospace flight systems engineer with NASA, I learned that effort is the only thing that stands between me and my goals. Dr. D’Souza made me feel that I really could become an aerospace engineer and succeed at my dream. I am so thankful to Miss Stachowski for assigning this project. I would have never had this experience if not for her. I love going to school at Notre Dame Academy. And I am now hopeful and ready to pursue my dream.”

“Greatness can be captured in one word: Lifestyle. Life is God’s gift to you, Style is what you make of it,” said Mae E. Jemison, doctor, engineer, and NASA astronaut.