By Blair Benz (USAG Grafenwoehr)June 16, 2009
GRAFEWOEHR, Germany - This summer, one Grafenwoehr Middle School student will be hanging out in zero gravity, preparing for a Space Shuttle missions and experiencing the heart-stopping G-Force of a rocket launch.
Philip Ramirez, a seventh grader at Netzaberg Middle school, was awarded a full scholarship to NASA Space Camp this June in Huntsville, Ala.
The Bernard Curtis Brown II scholarship is offered through the Military Child Education Coalition to all children enrolled in grades six through nine and have a parent on active duty in the military.
This year, Philip was one of five scholarship recipients out of 241 applicants from all over the world.
When asked how he learned of the scholarship, Philip explained the process, "I got an email from my counselor in the gifted program about the scholarship and it seemed really interesting, so I applied for it on my own."
Philip's mother, Lisa Ramirez, a second-grade teacher at Netzaberg Elementary School, concurred.
"He came home and showed the email to me. He wrote the essay. We helped him proof-read the essay, but he applied all on his own," she said.
Students applying for the scholarship submitted two letters of recommendation and an essay highlighting community service, patriotism and future goals.
Special emphasis on plans for sharing the information garnered at Space Camp challenged students to reach past the scholarship and envision an opportunity to engage the community.
Philip already has a plan to pass on what he learns. "I want to start a space club at school so I can share all the experiences I had at Space Camp with my classmates," he said.
The scholarship offered by the MCEC is named for Bernard Curtis Brown II, the 11-year-old son of a Master Chief Petty Officer, who was a passenger on board the hijacked airplane that crashed into the Pentagon on September 11, 2001.
Considered by his family, friends and teachers to be an outstanding young man with limitless potential, this scholarship honors Bernard's love of learning and service to others.
Philip carries a deep understanding of the weight and responsibility this award affords. "This award is a great honor," he said.
"Bernard Curtis Brown was one of the brightest students. It will be hard to live up to that, but it is cool that they think I can," Philip said.
For all of his achievements, Philip's parents are most proud of his willingness to be a leader and try new things.
"I'm very excited for him," his mom said. "I really tried to encourage him to apply for different things and not to be discouraged if he doesn't make it, but try again. I want my boys to try their best and keep trying. There are disappointments in this world but there are great things too."
Notable advice considering Philip was the only student out of approximately 600 eligible in the school to apply for the scholarship.
"It's good to remind them that they are shaping their future and it's a challenging world out there," Philip's father, Maj. Steve Ramirez added.
"We get to live a little vicariously through Philip. We are very excited for him," he added.
Philip's determination caught the attention of NMS Principal Dr. Elizabeth Childs.
"He is very modest and really calm about winning the scholarship. He is such a neat kid," she said.
Childs echoed the support given by Philip's mom, "So many students look at an opportunity like this and say 'I'll never make it.' Philip didn't think that way.
"My hope is that parents look at this and say my kids can do this too," she added.
When asked if he wanted to become an astronaut one day, Phillip responded without skipping a beat, "I'm keeping my options open," he said. "Actually, one day I want to be president of the United States."
While his time in the White House may be a few years away, Philip was recently elected as the 2009/2010 NMS student council president.