Students get NASA internships

Three Challenger Early College High School students will work with NASA this summer as part of several internship programs.

Kathryn Alley, Brittany Shepherd and Kristi Chang, all juniors, are the first students from Challenger to be selected for the NASA internships.

"I'm extremely proud of all three of them," said Tim Adams, who teaches earth and environmental science at Challenger. "This is a great opportunity; it's something they can put on their resume for the rest of their lives."

After Adams suggested she apply last May, Alley enrolled in an online community that is required to qualify for the internship. She then applied for the NASA INSPIRE program, but was waitlisted until she heard from DEVELOP staff.

"I just kept waiting, waiting and waiting, and finally the DEVELOP people contacted me," Alley said.

Alley just finished her junior year at Challenger and will be part of the NASA DEVELOP program near Hampton, Va. The DEVELOP program is a Science Mission Directorate Applied Sciences training and development program that lets high school and college students work on Earth science research projects, according to

Alley departs for Virginia on June 19, but said program directors still have not told her much about DEVELOP.

"All I really know is that it's business casual attire," Alley said.

Despite not knowing much, she is excited to meet people with the same interests and skills as her. During her eight-week stay in Virginia, NASA will pay for Alley's food, hotel room, and even give her a minimum wage stipend.

Chang will also travel with Alley to Virginia, but will be part of the INSPIRE program. Shepherd will depart for Houston, Texas for NASA's WISH program.

Though Alley hopes to study chemistry or a related science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, she said it would be "awesome" to work for NASA in the future.

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Opened six years ago, Challenger Early College High School is specifically designed to personalize learning experiences to provide powerful teaching and learning by a staff who has re-designed the profession, said assistant principal Heather Benfield. Challenger places students in high school and college courses from the day they start classes promises every graduate a diploma and associates degree.