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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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One step away
June 8, 2024

Former astronaut to present scholarship

The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation awards the largest U.S. monetary award to undergraduates.
Provided The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation awards the largest U.S. monetary award to undergraduates.  

A select few have seen Earth from the above, and one of them is coming to A&M.
Scott Parazynski, former NASA space shuttle astronaut, will be on campus Thursday to present a $10,000 scholarship from the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation to Amélie Cecile Berger, environmental geoscience senior.
Parazynski will also discuss some of his own experiences. As a self-declared “Lifelong Explorer,” Parazynski is a veteran of five space shuttle missions and seven spacewalks. He is also the first astronaut to reach the summit of Mount Everest in 2009.
The astronaut and adventurer will share his adventures from his time in space as well as the top of Everest with the hope that it will inspire others to become lifelong explorers as well, Parazynski said.
“I have been extremely fortunate in my life to have seen the planet from well above the surface, in space, on multiple space shuttle flights and space walks,” Parazynski said. “To the top of Mount Everest I have summited, and gone to places far below the ocean surface. I am a lifelong explorer so I am going to share experiences that I have had in my years.”
The ASF was founded by the Mercury and Gemini astronauts, some of the first American astronauts, with the hope of encouraging excellence in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math, Parazynski said. The ASF has awarded more than $3.7 million in scholarships.
Jonathan Kotinek, associate director of Honors and Undergraduate Research, said the ASF funds 28 $10,000 scholarships each year.
“This is the highest monetary award for undergraduate STEM students in the United States and is based solely on merit,” Kotinek said. “The purpose of the scholarship program, initially founded by the Mercury and Gemini astronauts, is to help emphasize the importance of science and technology to the general public by recognizing young scholars in these fields who show great potential.”
This year’s recipient, Berger, has shown excellence in her field of climate research, Kotinek said.
“What sets Amélie apart, even among other high-achieving and highly impressive honors students, is her poise and confidence,” Kotinek said. “Amélie has immersed herself in learning about her discipline through research with several faculty in the College of Geosciences.”
Berger said she was able to find her passion for climate sciences through the research programs that A&M has available to undergraduates. Berger said in addition to conducting research on climate in the Arctic, she has been able to gain experience in the tropics.
“I also went with A&M to Costa Rica for a research experience for undergraduates, and so it was a 10-week long internship and we got to study rainfall patterns in a tropical forest,” Berger said. “From that experience I participated in the undergraduate scholars program at A&M, where I was able to write an undergraduate thesis for A&M. So that internship gave me a lot experience that I think made my application competitive.”
Berger has presented at a national professional conference, submitted a paper in publication and has reached out to prospective students, Kotinek said.
In the future Berger said she plans to attend graduate school and eventually teach at the university level.
Parazynski said achieving success and being “among the best” is a value at the core of the award.
“It’s not just the area of study, but it is also where this person is going,” Parazynski said. “Is this person about to really launch an incredible career? That certainly is the case with this year’s recipient.”

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