Avondale resident and North High School student Rosario Peralta, 18, jetted off to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Alabama for a weeklong educational excursion.
Peralta and her brother, Roberto, were awarded the scholarship via The Leadership Challenge Academy, a program offered to children of full-time Honeywell employees. The partnership with USSRC has allowed them to send 325 high school students worldwide to the renowned space camp.
The Alabama space camp was miles away from home for the Peralta siblings, but they had each other.
“It was kind of weird,” said Rosario. “Usually when I go to camp, I will know everybody who goes with me, but at this camp, I only knew one person and that was my brother.”
The program has a diverse group of students who they feel best represents what it means to be an ambitious young adult.
“I learned about so many cultures,” Peralta said. “There were over 35 countries represented at the camp, so everyone you sat next to would speak a different language, and it was really cool to learn about our cultural differences.”
Peralta plans to attend the University of Arizona in the fall. She plans to study veterinary science.
“I have always had a passion for animals and I volunteer at animal shelters a lot,” Peralta said.
While Peralta plans to work in the veterinary field, the academy piqued her interest in the military side of STEM.
“There was an aviation challenge where we were a part of a special ops team of fighter pilots and we had to destroy bases and that piqued my interest in armed forces,” Peralta said. “What I would like to do is to become a veterinarian in the Army. That is how I am taking my two interests and meshing them.”
With a schedule filled with guest speakers and leadership activities, Peralta’s favorite challenge was the space mission challenge.
“It was a simulation. Basically, I was the person who talks to mission control and ISS (International Space Station),” Peralta said. “It was my favorite thing because it felt like we were actually sending a shuttle off to space. There was an anomaly that happened in the ISS so I had to figure out what was wrong and tell them what to do to fix it, so I basically saved the entire ISS.”
The partnership was created in 2010 and has since sent more than 2,091 students to the academy.
“The program provides a unique opportunity for students to build and hone their leadership skills by tackling real-world STEM challenges,” said Kerry Kennedy, Honeywell Hometown Solutions’ director.
There were 700 applicants. Kennedy went over the requirements.
“Applicants should be in good academic standing, highly involved in their communities and extracurricular activities, and have an interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” Kennedy said.
The Honeywell Leadership Challenge Academy officials hope the program will encourage students to pursue careers in math and science.
“HLCA provides interactive activities that encourage high school students from around the world to pursue STEM-related careers,” Kennedy said. “The program aims to engage students to become future engineers, coders, scientists and innovators, and inspire them to bring their generations technological contributions to the world.”
Peralta said she would do it again in a heartbeat, and hopes she has the opportunity.
“They have an opportunity to be an ambassador. You can come back the next year and help show the ropes,” Peralta said.