The student news site of Bellaire High School

Three Penny Press

The student news site of Bellaire High School

Three Penny Press

The student news site of Bellaire High School

Three Penny Press


Andy Shen inside the Orion Capsule in the Apollo Exhibit inside Space Center Houston.

“From the age of 4, when I first saw the moon landing, I wanted to be an astronaut.

As a child, I was exposed to STEM camps at the Museum of Natural Science and NASA. Through these camps, I got my start in STEM. Now, I’m [the] captain of robotics, and my passion has become NASA and STEM.

Because I was inspired by [the NASA camp], I want to pass that same inspiration down the line to other people. During the application process [to volunteer at the NASA camp], I focused on making an impact because these camps have changed my life. If kids do not have [STEM] exposure early on, it is very difficult for them to get it in the future when they have less time, especially in high school. By then, it’s almost too late because you need long-term exposure to be able to decide what you want to do. I had aspirations of [being] a pediatrician or a lawyer, but I settled on STEM because that’s the one thing that [I’ve done] throughout my entire life.

I was one of 40 selected to be a volunteer. I got selected for Explorer Camps, [which] are for kids aged four to 11. [I got to] transfer [my] knowledge over to kids and inspire them to be future STEM people themselves or invest in the engineering field. It is so rewarding seeing kids’ personalities come out, [seeing] their eyes lighting up when they invest themselves in STEM programs and showing them that they have so much potential and so much to reach for.

Story continues below advertisement

What’s really cool about [the Explorer Camps] is that I got to meet and engage with a couple of astronauts, people who have actually flown in space [and worked] in a field that I want to pursue in the future.

One astronaut I met was part of the HERA program. HERA is a simulated base for Mars, and what they do is they put four people in that simulation, cut [them] off for 50 days and study [their] psyche. [The astronaut] found that waking up to a good song that the crew likes, watching a movie every night together or having good food is really, really helpful psychologically. In school, I’m stressed out all the time, but doing small things to take care of myself can significantly alter the course of my day. It gets so much better by just listening to a specific song, eating good food or doing something nice for myself. It changes a lot more than you think it will.

The other astronaut I met has actually flown in space. Her name is Dr. Anna Fisher. She was the first mother in space, [and] she was part of the same astronaut class as Sally Ride. She didn’t think she was ever going to be an astronaut, but she [got her] Ph.D., applied for the astronaut program and got selected. So, her overall message was: if you sell yourself short, then you are going to fall short. You have to tell yourself that you’re able to do something, only then will you ever be able to do it.

[Another] thing that [Fisher told] us was that [we] need to be sure of [our] passion before enter[ing] the field. This summer has solidified in my mind that I want to be an engineer. If not an astronaut, I want to be part of NASA [at] the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California.

Even if it means sacrificing getting into the best college, it is more important to find something that you are willing to do for a lifetime, [not] just to [go to] a school for four years. College applications make you a commodity that has to be bought. You cannot be passionate about something if you’re trying to conform to [a college’s] standards. Not going to a good college is really taboo in Asian American cultures, but finding something that you are genuinely passionate about is so much more important.

It’s just like in space. If you are not committed, then you won’t perform well.

So you have to commit yourself. You have to remember that passion drives you to be able to do anything that you want to do.”

View Comments (1)
More to Discover

Comments (1)

All Three Penny Press Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • A

    Andrew LiuApr 15, 2024 at 11:53 am

    Look at Andy man so inspiraitonal