Keaton Jones has always felt a connection to space, and NASA recently helped the Alvin Community College student come one step closer in reaching that final frontier.
“I have always been fascinated with the International Space Station,” he said. “Just space travel and space exploration in general. I used to come to the Kennedy Space Center as a kid. I have always had an interest in that, especially Mars.”
NASA selected Jones as a National Community College Aerospace Scholar this summer. The internship program encourages students from two-year colleges to continue their STEM education at a four-year university. Jones is currently a student at Alvin Community College.
The Community College Aerospace Scholar program is an educational experience for students interested in a career in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Each scholar receives a four-day, in-person experience at a NASA center. They also participate in a five-week online workshop that includes live video chats with NASA experts and engage in mission design challenges.
It has been a dream come true to dive in and immerse himself in all the different facets of NASA, Jones said.
“Knowing specific things about previous rover missions to Mars, knowing things about Orion,” he said. “Software that they have taught us about. Software like Blender. These are 3D modeling softwares. That is probably the most important things I am taking away from this.”
It was actually Alvin Community College history instructor Johanna Hume who encouraged Jones to apply for the internship, he said.
She just knew this was an opportunity that seemed right up Jones’ ally, Hume said.
“Keaton is the exact kind of person that NASA is looking for,” she said. “I was absolutely overjoyed when he got it. I think NASA is very lucky to have him.”
She tells all her students to apply for internships because they are so valuable and they allow students to explore what they want to do with their future job career, Hume said.
“They give so much experience,” she said. “They build networks. They give students an idea on where to go.”
This month, Keaton got the chance to take what he has learned and speak to NASA employees when he went on-site at the NASA Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Virginia, he said.
He couldn’t wait to gain insight on the different facets of the space organization, Jones said.
“I am really excited to speak with current employees, to learn about their experience and how they enjoy working there,” he said. “I really am excited.”
Jones is working toward obtaining a general studies degree and hopes to pursue a career in educational film projects, he said. He is excited about the tips and information that the internship will provide him, Jones said.
“I would really like to get into documentary filmmaking,” he said. “I plan on applying and becoming part of NASA’s public relations department. I really have a lot more to contribute through that.”
While he has a legitimate interest in engineering, he wants to be able to be the storyteller for others in the coming years, Jones said.
“I really want to tell the story and really get other people interested in it,” he said.