Ever since reading “The Martian” at age 9, Zhea has become fascinated with the idea of space travel, problem solving and becoming an astronaut. She in an avid reader, a meticulous student, and possesses a curious mind with a thirst to learn and understand how the world works. Zhea’s creativity connects all these dots as she craves to figure out ever new and different ways in which to play the flute, sculpt and take down her opponents in wrestling.
Zhea’s relationship with math and science has created the beginnings of a complex understanding of herself. Questioning her liberal arts subjects she thrives in the certainties of science all the meanwhile enjoying the socratic method of taking apart what is assumed and taught as the way to interpret literature, history, society and art.
Zhea has excelled at standard testing ever since the first time she was presented with the challenge, having scored perfectly over the last couple of years on her California Star test. She does not rejoice in the praise and accolades she has received but rather strives to improve, to learn more, to challenge herself, whether it is with summer school courses, a PSAT course (while still in 7th grade) or the dream of attending the NASA Space Academy. Zhea’s grades and hard work have seen her receive school awards and reassure her that she is continuing to progress even if the teachers don’t always enjoy her constant questioning, her unsatiated curiosity and her unabashed originality.
Zhea has always been an exceptionally bright, inquisitive, humble and intelligent child. Growing up alongside her equally exceptional older sister has allowed her to consume and absorb knowledge at a higher level, able to see holes and missing things, grasp ideas and - again, always pushing herself to learn more, to become better. She has been a student in the advanced Gifted And Talented Education (GATE) program where she explores concepts and materials beyond the standards set of her age group while maintaining a 4.0 grade average and continuing to exceed limits.
Zhea is not afraid to stand out and be her own person. She is well grounded and perceptive, as comfortable with a book in her hand and her nose in studies as she is in a wrestling match against an unsuspecting boy or helping a fellow struggling student. Throughout it all she dreams of one day problem solving in space - becoming an astronaut.
In her quest for learning and space travel Zhea has a chance to attend the Space Academy at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. There she can experience firsthand the future of space travel and train to complete space missions. She will train like an astronaut, experience simulators utilizing complex equipment such as the ⅙ Gravity Chair and the Multi-Axis Trainer. She will challenge her engineering skills in a Thermal Design Challenge all the while launching simulated missions to the International Space Station, the moon and Mars! She will work with NASA astronauts and learn along with like minded children from all over the world. It is a unique, hands-on STEM experience aligned to national science and math standards encouraging fun and creativity. She will thrive in this setting with these fellow students, finally able to get answers and experience she has dreamed of.
We ask for you to donate to send Zhea on her Space Academy adventure. We are grateful for any amount. Thank you for contributing to a kids dream and a young woman’s future!