|Yuri's night celebrants at the Indiana State Museum|
Thanks to Dr. Dawn Whitaker, we were even dressed for the event--yes, all of the INSGC staff (myself, Dr. Whitaker, Angie Verissimo, and student interns Isa Fritz and Ben Weiss) were outfitted in matching Yuri's night t-shirts that she had found at Think Geek.
|Doesn't Ben look good in his Yuri's Night t-shirt?|
As I said, April 12 is a date that I remember in the history of space flight for its life-changing experiences (well, my eldest was born on April 11, but that's a bit different), and we should really highlight those sorts of experiences. The Affiliates who couldn't attend were actually celebrating Yuri's Night elsewhere in Indiana: the Star Plaza Theatre in Merrilville was hosting former astronaut Wendy Lawrence at another INSGC supported event organized by the Challenger Learning Center of Northwest Indiana. "Reaching for the Stars" was the theme, and I can't imagine a better slogan for the day. In much the same way that Gagarin and others helped fuel the dreams and opportunities for lives such as Capt. Lawrence and others, her presentation can change the lives of others who got to hear her presentation and even ask her a question.
In fact, some of the folks I got to meet at the event were also fantastic examples of how space flight (and Space Grant) can change lives. Two of the students who presented posters at the event were people that I had met, or who had contacted me, through unexpected and unplanned interactions. Patrick Cavanaugh came to the INSGC booth at the Indiana State Fair back in 2009; since then, he's been involved in computer engineering projects, received INSGC scholarship support, and is now looking towards graduate education.
|Patrick explains his work on computer imaging to Dr. Whitaker.|
Gabriela Campos was on track to have an "okay life," as she puts it. Then, she heard about a summer program for students to get involved with STEM research, and was put in touch with INSGC. She received some internship funding, and is now also excited and motivated and passionate about her work on MEMS sensors--she talked about the changes in her experiences leading her towards a "fantastic life". Her enthusiasm is infectious, and wonderful--and an example of why we believe in INSGC.
|Gabriela answers a question about MEMS sensors for Dr. Lee and me.|
I am so pleased that INSGC could be involved in these events, and could help to bring excitement and history and imagination and passion to STEM engagement.