Jordan O’Kelley is a teen advocate for inclusivity and strength-based mentorship approaches. We asked Jordan to share with our readers, his 2021 NASA N3 Neurodiversity Network program experience. In the words of Jordan:
“The NASA N3 program is a Summer internship program created by Physics professor and STEM educator Dr. Lynn Cominsky at Sonoma State University. Her program was funded with a $5 million grant from NASA last year to give Neurodiverse High School students interested in STEM careers opportunities to work with NASA Subject Matter Experts in a mentor capacity. Dr. Cominsky believes that success for ASD students going into STEM careers will depend on them having opportunities to develop relationships with mentors in their chosen fields of interest, which she refers to as long-term mentors.
Last year’s pilot program consisted of 16 interns, completing 160 hours of remote research each spread out over the summer. Upon completing the program’s presentation, the interns received a stipend of $1000. I was fortunate enough to work with Dr. David J. Thompson the head researcher of the FERMI Gamma-Ray Telescope, out of NASA Goddard. It was a life-changing experience. I always thought I wanted to do physics but had no idea what that would really be like until after I experienced working with Dr. Thompson. My internship experience was invaluable as I can now say with confidence that I want a career in Astrophysics.
Dr. Cominsky and her team carefully pair each intern candidate in the program with a NASA subject matter expert in their field of interest. For my project, I researched pulsars and black holes in-depth with Dr. Thompson with the goal of putting together the information in an educational video for my end project. Besides staying connected to this program I also continue to promote the great work that the NASA N3 program is doing.” ~ Jordan O’ Kelley.
Stay tuned for our upcoming episode of Voices: “We Know You For That” podcast with Jordan O’ Kelley.
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