Rocket scientist says reach for the stars
January 24, 2011
- "You have to have your destination in mind so you can set goals accordingly."
- "If you don't try your hardest, you never know what you can do."
HOHENFELS, Germany -- A Hohenfels High School alumnus returned to her former physics class this month to share stories of her work as a bona fide rocket scientist and to encourage students to reach for the stars.
Lyndy Axon, an Air Force Academy Cadet First Class, spoke to Ms. Joyce Dusenberry's Physics class about the possibilities that exist after graduation.
"The earlier you can start and motivate someone," said Axon, "the better the possibility that they can have their dream come true."
Axon should know. As far back as she can remember she wanted to be an astronaut.
"It's just one of those things I never grew out of," she said.
The dream seems to be within reach. Enrolled in the nation's oldest astronautical engineering program at the Air Force Academy, Axon just recently learned she has qualified for a pilot's slot.
Axon said her parents instilled a belief in her early on that with enough hard work, anything was possible.
"If you don't try your hardest at something, or you don't try at all, you never know what you can do," said Axon. "It's always been one of my philosophies that you might as well try, because it can't put you further back."
Passing on this philosophy is one of the reasons she agreed to speak to Dusenberry's class.
"I went to the Air Force Academy not knowing anything about it," said Axon. "I wish I had known about it earlier in my life. I would have been prepared. A freshman in high school could be like - this is what I need to do to get somewhere like that."
"Students don't always know about all the possibilities," added Axon's mother, Marion Warner-Axon. "It's really nice to have someone come back that's done something unusual and different, something that might make you say - yeah, I could do that too."
"Since I've been there I've gotten to do so many things," Axon said, citing examples of studying at the prestigious Aerospace Corporation in Los Angeles and working in and around F-15 jets.
"I'm going be trying free-fall, earn my jump wings," she said. "There are so many things that you wouldn't think of, that wouldn't be a reason why you went, that are definitely the reason I stayed and I'm really glad I'm there."
Axon attributes much of her success to the experiences she had as a student at Hohenfels High School.
"Some people think this school's not so great because it's so small," she said. "But I think it's better because it's small. The sheer personal interaction and caring of your teachers - that environment - you know somebody cares about you and is invested in your future."
Axon said the environment at the Academy is similar, with small classes and personal attention from the teachers. She said because of the trust built between students and teachers at Hohenfels High, she found it easier to take advantage of the help offered at the Academy.
"I wasn't scared to ask my teachers for help because I didn't go to a high school with 5,000 kids where the teacher doesn't even know your name," she said. "That's definitely why I have done really well."
Axon credit's the whole Hohenfels community with helping her succeed, from the school where she was given the opportunity to take online Advanced Placement physics classes, to the health clinic who helped rush her medical reports through for her application.
"So many little pieces that go into it, if you didn't have the support of everyone helping you then it wouldn't have been possible," said Axon.
"We're all very proud of her at this school," said Dusenberry, "It's really good for our students to see alumni from this school come and talk about where they've gone in life and what they've done."
Among other things, Axon shared photos of a recent rocket launch out of Kodiak, Alaska.
"I was in charge of the mechanical team," she said. "We had to take the satellite and attach it to the top of the rocket."
Her real message, though, was about what is possible, and what it takes to get there.
"You have to have your destination in mind so you can set goals accordingly," she said. "Hard work and determination can make your dreams come true."
For Axon, the sky's the limit. Her goals include becoming a pilot, and ultimately an astronaut.
"I'd be perfectly content with my life sitting around designing rockets," she said. "But if you don't try for the big thing, you never know where you could end up."