Inspiration, motivation, and reasoning… Think about it. Feeling at least one of these things makes you feel alive, makes you feel like you’re living for something, makes you look forward to the very next day to pursue your dream. I found this… this dream that’s becoming a possible reality for me in a high school chemistry class. Odd, I know. I flew by in school, going because I had to. Half assing school work, having assing friendships because I was going to move onto the next school within a year or so anyways.

Its 6am on a Monday morning, stumbling half asleep in my moms 2005 Kia Spectra just to make it on time for school. Driving long distances has never been a big issue for me; taking naps, listening to music, and people watching as they think no one is looking while they’re picking their nose or jamming out to music in their suit attire. I was always the new kid at school, again, never was a big issue for me.

I never had the choice to move schools up until my sophomore year when I was attending Citrus Valley, I decided to move back in with my mom and attend Colton high for the rest of 2014.  All of my grades were successfully transfered to Colton high, which certainly weren’t the best in some subjects rather than others. Walking into room 68, Mr. Garcia’s chemistry class, not knowing a single thing about chemistry. I struggled in that subject back at Citrus Valley and to make it even worse I was transferred to a school district that was ahead because they started school before us. On my first day Mr. Garcia handed me a paper and told me to do whatever I can, it’s not a test he just wants to see what I knew. To be honest I didn’t know much… I tried but nothing. He sat next to me and he slowly but clearly went over the concept with me and I was able to answer a few more questions with his help, of course, but I felt embarrassed. He then said something I will never forget, “I see potential in you”.  After that class I had so much motivation to do better, something I haven’t felt nor done in awhile. Staying up all night to read textbooks (which I never did for class) or actually raise my hand, asking for help while the whole class would stare at me blankly, causing a bit more attention than I’m used to. I was doing this for myself, not to impress anyone, it was 100% all for my satisfaction.

It wasn’t until the day that I had missed an assignment, that the next day I insisted turning it in saying, “ I know this was due yesterday but I wanted to see if you would be able to grade it for me… I know I wont get any credit but I did it anyways to see if I actually know this lesson.” Garcia looks at me in shock and tells me ‘’I never, during my teaching years, have had a student ask for an assignment to be graded, not wanting credit, but to see if the work is correct. He ended up giving me 100% on that one assignment because I quickly realized what i had done wrong and verbally explained to him the correct answers.

Then stoichiometry hit. I was back at staring at a blank paper for the first 10 minutes then multiple failed attempts trying to convert substances undergoing a physical change or a chemical change. I haven’t felt this lost since my first day at Colton high. I constantly stayed after class to ask questions, then booking it to my next class. During class or any free time within the last few minutes of class, I asked other classmates, but they didn’t seem to truly understand the concept enough to help me. Garcia was a busy man, he was all over the place. His wife was in a car accident which caused him to miss a lot of lessons and ever since then he’s been off track with  teaching. He was also enrolled in classes because he wanted to be a guidance counselor.. I really needed tutoring and when I spoke with Garcia about other students including myself with the understanding of this subject, stoichiometry. He was more than happy to help but he wanted to make sure students would actually come. So what do students love more than having no homework over the weekends… PIZZA. There would be 3-5 students at one of the four whiteboards helping or correcting the one student who was solving the equation. After I successfully complete that lesson, everything was a piece of cake to me. During each lab I would take over. Don’t get me wrong, I had every smart lab partners, they knew what was going on, but they would rather much socialize than find the pH levels of common household substances. After that lab I had a B+, I wanted an A. I spoke with Garcia, asking for extra credit assignments or any tests I could correct, because of that I received and maintained an ‘’A’’ ever since.

I was pulled out of class for an award assembly, the categories included outstanding academics to participation. I honestly thought i was going to get an award for participation points in PE,  then I was called up for an award in Outstanding Academics in Chemistry. Out of 100 students I was chosen. As they called my name there was louding cheering from friends and family, oh yeah and from my moms boyfriend Jesse being extra, shouting “YEAH GO LINA”. All of that hard work I put in was worth it, I saw something in me that I didn’t know I was capable of.

At the end of that year, summer hit. I would spend my weekends with my aunt in highland. I remember being a little agitated we morning and in the car ride there to a family baseball game. As we were on the freeway, passing Pasadena’s NASA laboratory my aunt and uncle turned to the back of the car, “Hey lina look you’re going to go there!” And I kind of forced a laugh out and said “Yeah”, thinking that they meant the see me working there after college or something. And as I threw in my earphone, once again they interrupted, “ No, really… We’re taking you there right now!’’ You know when you tell a kid they’re going to disneyland? Well that’s how I reacted when I was told I was going to NASA’s open house. Working for NASA was my dream, doing what? I have no idea, but that was my goal. I’ve always been the one interested in research. I love going through the process of interviewing, finding out new information, and bringing it up to others to hear and debate the topic. Everyone could picture me working in a lab, with my little lab coat doing science ‘’things’’ or seeing me as an astronaut up into space… (which was and currently still not possible, due to that fact that i couldn’t possibly with stand any of the physical tests that prepare you for outer space). Running around, looking at all the stations that had to do with spaceship parts, short films about space, and space ice cream, happily ignoring the environmental station the whole day (BORING). Remind you that this was a free event, I had all day to explore the whole building, but I figured since I had a little bit more time before we were going to get picked up I said, “Why not?”.

The environmental station was placed in this huge room, filled from corner to corner with so much information on space or how it contributes to space. I was all for it. The EMS allows NASA programs to function in a more environmentally friendly way and helps the success and environmental impact of NASA missions and ever since then that’s what I plan to do. NASA I’m coming for you!