There are plenty of people that are wanting to see good things happen around college campuses. In many cases, people politely wait to see what good things might come. I’ve explored the people who were doing more then just waiting. They are the folks who continue to work hard, and create good things for themselves and the student body.
Today, I want to introduce you to a Seattle Central Community College student who paved her way back into college and then into the world of space. The student you’re about to meet literally took herself from having almost nothing to working with NASA. It’s a story that is both fascinating and inspiring. She is, as the title of this article reads, “A solid student role model.”
Who is Kathleen Lentz? What is your background?
I am an average person with an inordinate desire for education.
What inspired you to attend Seattle Central Community?
Honestly, I lucked out. Seattle Central is close to where I live. It was a logistical decision.
Do you feel like you’re an inspiration to your daughter? Is your return to school, while being a single mother, something she understands? After all, it is very challenging!
She does not understand how difficult this is, nor should she at this point. I have worked to shelter her from the negative aspects of this challenging period while creating a stable and loving home for her. I may be an inspiration to her later in life but I am a role model for her now and as such I try to keep a strong face. After all, this is her normal. I want her to be six right now, with the freedom to play and not worry about the grave nature of our journey. But at some point I do think that she will “get it,” and understand what we both have sacrificed for a brighter future.
Tell us about how you were chosen to be part of the NASA program. How did you learn about it? What did you do to even be considered?
Again, luck. I applied to the SCCC Foundation Scholarship and was chosen to be part of this program. I remember opening the letter; I saw “We are pleased,” and thought whoo hooo. I was on the phone with my friend telling her I had gotten a scholarship when my eyes scanned further down the page. Washington NASA Space Grant Consortium??!?! I was shocked, this was a big jump coming from taking Math 084 twice. I think that is why it makes such a great story. I was not blessed with superior scientific intellect, nor did I come from a family where any of this was discussed at the dinner table. Dang, I didn’t even have a dinner table growing up. In the scholarship application I wrote that while I might not be smarter then the person sitting beside me, that I am willing to work harder than the person sitting beside me.
Would you tell other people who may have turned away from college originally to consider returning and finish a degree?
Coming back to college in my late twenties has been great. Besides, even if you didn’t “get it” at age eighteen, you can come back and do better. It’s science really, your prefrontal cortex wasn’t fully developed at eighteen. Your judgment and ability to plan will absolutely be better the second time around!
What final thoughts, comments, or advice to you have for the readers?
“Well-behaved women rarely make history.” Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
So go do it Your way!
Thank you, Kathleen, for these thoughts. I know that the insight you shared will help to inspire other people. I know that many of my readers wish you well as you head off to interact with some of the smartest scientists in the world.
It should be noted that this community college already had another student representative be invited to interact with NASA officials. The scientific community has taken great interest in looking at other education venues outside the traditional large research colleges.
If you would care to share your thoughts on Kathleen’s experiences, please feel free to post below. You may also send additional comments to my e-mail address: [email protected] Please consider subscribing to my newsletter, and send this URL off to people who might benefit from reading it.