Program included time at U.S. Space and Rocket Center
by Keith Beebe
KANELAND—When Kaneland High School junior Maria Rossi applied for a science and technology in education scholarship program that was offered to children of Honeywell International employees, she knew the program taught leadership and exploring science and technology for the purpose of promoting careers in a variety of fields.
Rossi then received the scholarship during this winter and was invited to attend the Honeywell Leadership Challenge Academy (HLCA) from Feb. 26 to March 11 at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala.
Needless to say, the program turned out to be a one-of-a-kind experience for her.
“Camp was nothing like I expected,” she said. “It was very eye opening, because not only did I learn about the importance of leadership and applying (it) to everyday activities, but I also got a chance to learn about different cultures and how things work differently overseas.”
Rossi, whose father works for Honeywell International, was one of the 238 students from 26 countries and 27 U.S. states who were awarded the HLCA scholarship. Four other students were also from the Chicago area.
“Not only was I learning about how to become a leader, I was also learning how to use those skills to communicate with people from all over the world that don’t necessarily understand everything I am doing, which is very helpful in the real world when you are working with a company overseas,” Rossi said.
While at the camp, students interacted with engineers, scientists and even former astronauts in order to build critical thinking, integrated planning, communication and team trust skills. The students then participated in hands-on activities including design, construction and testing of rockets and DNA extraction experiments, as well as simulated space shuttle missions and fighter jet pilot training.
A career in piloting fighter jets probably isn’t in the cards for Rossi, however, who said she is very interested in studying pediatric occupational therapy.
“This program just reinforced the importance of science, technology and leadership in whatever career I choose,” she said.