Name: Chelsea Bailey
Current Employer: United States Air Force
Current Title: F-22 Pilot
Education: Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering, University of Virginia
Which of our Challenger Learning Centers did you visit? Buehler Challenger & Science Center in Paramus, New Jersey.
When did you visit a Challenger Learning Center? (approximate age and/or grade) I visited the center on a field trip in 5th grade.
What do you remember most from your experience? I remember working in teams at our consoles in Mission Control and I especially remember the freeze-dried ice cream from the gift shop.
Have you always been interested in STEM? I have always enjoyed math and science. My passion led me to attend a STEM magnet high school and pursue an engineering degree in college.
Did the visit to the Challenger Learning Center affect your decision to pursue a STEM degree or career? If yes, how? I think my visit to the Challenger Learning Center helped reinforce my existing interest in STEM. It certainly increased my interest in space and helped steer me towards a degree in aerospace engineering.
Why is STEM education so critical at a young age? I believe all education is critical at a young age. It’s important to show children the opportunities that a STEM career presents and show them that goals are attainable.
What advice would you give to students who want to pursue STEM degrees or careers? My advice is to pursue what you love. If you are naturally gifted in math and science then embrace it. If you find math and science challenging then continue to work at it. Never accept that you’re “not good at math” or that you’ll “never use this in real life.” You can be good at it, and you will use the skills you learn later.
In one sentence, how would you describe your Challenger Learning Center experience? My Challenger Learning Center field trip was memorable and influential to the extent that I still remember it nearly 20 years later.
Why should people support Challenger Learning Center’s STEM programs? People should support Challenger Center’s STEM programs because they have a direct impact on furthering education in critical fields.