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NASA MUST Scholarship

By Aida Yoguely Cortés-Peña

Here are some of my experiences as a NASA MUST Scholar, in backwards chronological order.

NASA MUST Leadership Symposium, Orlando, Florida, Summer 2012

I attended the 2012 Symposium were we networked with NASA scholars, representatives and staff, benefited from the numerous workshops, and learned from inspiring speakers. The symposium provided invaluable training to develop expertise in creativity, career planning, job offer negotiation strategies, influencing others, and goal setting.

Mentions: The NASA MUST 2013 Annual Report

NASA MUST Leadership Symposium, Baltimore Maryland, Summer 2011

I attended the NASA Motivating Undergraduates in Science and Technology (MUST) 2011 Symposium to get oriented about the program and to gain some leadership skills. Little did I know that I would get mind blown by these impacting speakers, sharing their life long lessons and providing key points to improve in our lives. The following are some of my notes taken as my jaw dropped in excitement and awe.

Behind The Scene

Dr. Bertice Berry:

Sociologist, and award winning lecturer Dr. Bertice Berry made us think and laugh at the same time.

  • Clean your filter and free your mind.
  • You cannot drive forward in life without looking back. Take the example a car. The rear windows exist, but they are smaller than the one to look forward. 
  • When you walk with Purpose you collide with Destiny.  
  • Ingenuity doesn't come from a vacuum.
  • Ask yourself "Why me here now?"
  • As great as we all are, as long as we are still breathing, we got to get better.
  • Diversity helps in critical thinking, on how you process information. For example the dinosaurs were really strong but they died because they did not collaborate like humans did.   
  • Don't ever think you are better than the people who got you there.    
  • Gratitude: No one owns you something you haven't earned.
  • Why are we wrapped up in other peoples' lives? Because you do not want to take care of your own life.   
  • Before it was "I" , now its "we", lets make it  "all".
  • Before taking a decision, take a deep breath to remove the arousing factors. Example: *deep breath* I love you!
  • What we give positive energy to, grows exponentially.
  • Visualize what it looks like.
  • Laugh more, life is a gift for those who get the joke.
  • Make sure my encounter with you is the best encounter because you never know what will happen between space and time.
  • What do you do with the fact that your still here?

Dr. Freeman Hrabowski

Has served as President of The University of Maryland, Baltimore County since May 1992. He shared with us, the stories of a tough  life as a young participant in the civil rights movement, the importance his mother put on mathematics and reading, and makes us muse over the true definition of a genius.

  • My family is my primary example of hardworking progression, it is my motivation for everyday.
  • Have humbleness to not spoil people and be energetic to make a change.
  • "Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I would be president of a predominantly white university."
  • "Watch your thoughts, for they become words.Watch your words, for they become actions.Watch your actions, for they become habits.Watch your habits, for they become characterWatch your character, for it becomes your destiny" 
  • Everyone has a story.  Learn and practice your story right.

Captain Roger G. Isom

Captain Isom put our foot on the ground... and our heads in the sky, with his inspiring speech on the importance of being ready and willing to win.

  • Trust but verify.
  • Prepare the answers for these questions, and be ready to say them at any moment:
  • What is leadership and why is it important?
  • What leadership skills do I have?
  •  Leadership and STEM how is that important? 
  • Can you influence a diverse group of young talented and motivated individuals towards a common goal, project, purpose and effort?
  • Lead by example, be decisive, character, honest, confident but not arrogant, courage, take responsibility, do the right thing the right way, take initiative, dedication, adaptability.
  • The elevator speech, take advantage of opportunity.

Dr. John Hodge

Engaged scholars in exploring how the Social, Academic, and Moral Education (S.A.M.E.) framework applies to the world of work in the future.

  • What is Peer Leadership?
  • Proficient: technically and academically proficient professionals committed to life long learning
  • Innovate: critical thinkers and creative decision makers/shapers
  • Articulate: effective communication. verbal communication to influence
  • Competitive: having the will, motivation and effort, and skills to win and make a difference
  • imaginative: the ability to visualize new possibilities
  • Selfness- leaders who value service with purpose and character
  • Your time, your turn, grow and glow.
  • What is your purpose for living?
  • Write handwritten thank you notes

Mario Rubio

Mr. Rubio, a current MUST scholar, shared his story and opportunities to keep in mind as we move forward.

  • NSF Summer Research Academy UTEP
  • NASA Student Ambassador Program
  • Reduced Gravity Flight Program 
  • Everyone has potential, they just need a helping hand.
  • Simplicity is for the expert, complexity for noobs.
  • A diploma is your ticket to change the world.

Tony Wagner

In the new global knowledge economy, many jobs are being either automated of ''off-shored", Tony Wagner explores what skills are essential for a successful career, college, and active informed citizenship. The Seven Survival Skills are:

  • Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
  • Collaboration Across Networks and Leading By Influence
  • Initiative and Entrepreneurship
  • Effective Oral and Written Communication,
  • Accessing and Analyzing Information
  • Curiosity and Imagination  
  • Agility and Adaptability
  • Practice learning from feedback
  • Know everyone
  • Be resourceful, open minded, flexible and keep a positive attitude.
  • As lifelong learners stay focused on the outcome, broaden your perspective and be prepared to do something different.

Dr. Joaquim de Posada

One uniquely engaging motivational speaker and author of Don't Eat the Marshmallow Yet, teaches us the most important principle for success.

  • Deferred gratification and self discipline: The ability to put off what you want to later get what you need.
  • Applied knowledge is power. Now a days everyone has the power to rapidly look up information, so it doesn't matter whether you know facts or numbers, what matters is what you do/build/invent with that information.
  • If you know and don't do, you don't know.
  • The Story of the Elephant in the Circus

The Motivational Minibook

I was fortunate enough to have met Dr. Joaquin de Posada, a brilliant motivational speaker who passed down his motivational minibook to me. Here I share you some words to read to lift anyone up.

  • No one can make you feel inferior without your permission.
  • Challenge yourself. Break your comfort zone. You may well surprise yourself and others.
  • Bad start? No sweat. It's the finish, not the start, that counts.
  • Personality can open many doors, but only character will keep them open.
  • One definition of integrity: being on the "inside" what you profess to be on the "outside".
  • If you don't feel good, act like you do, and you will almost immediately feel like you do.
  • Researchers have now determined that a smile-even if forced-triggers an intricate series of responses throughout the body, all of which conspire to make you feel good.
  • Good things usually begin with a difficulty, but great things invariably begin with an impossibility. Welcome the impossible as the messenger of impending greatness and progress.
  • Losers say, "Why don't they do something". Winners say, "Here is something I can do".
  • The smallest goals achieved stands taller than the grandest intention. 
  • Do whatever your heart leads you to do- But do it. "Walk your Talk".
  • Remember: "They" is us, and "luck" is when preparation meets opportunity.
  • Every morning in Africa a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn't matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle; when the sun comes up, you better be running.
  • Excellence is never an accident; it's always the result of passion, sincere intention and great effort.
  • Learn to value yourself first; then fight for your happiness.
  • It's more probable that your attitude, rather than your aptitude, will determine your altitude in life.
  • Worry is a misuse of the imagination.
  • Rather than acknowledge a mistake, nations have gone to war, families have separated, and individuals have sacrificed everything dear to them. Admitting that you have been wrong is just another way of saying that you are wiser today than yesterday.
  • If you have been ridiculed, you are in the company of history's greatest artists, inventors, scientists and social thinkers. Virtually all significant advancements, including such everyday thing as the airplane, automobile and electric light, were accomplished despite cruel and widespread criticism.
  • The wonderful thing about the game of life is that winning and losing are only temporary-unless you quit.
  • If you don't have a dream, how are you going to have a dream come true?
  • Most people allow their lives to be controlled by "they" and "luck". Why hand over your life to excuses or the whims of fortune?
  • If you meet someone who has no smile, give them yours.
  • Don't beat up on yourself. Some of the worst demotivators in the English language are the words, "I should have... I would have... I could have." Why make a conscious effort to strike them from your vocabulary? Instead, say to yourself, "Net time , I'll".
  • You are Nature's greatest miracle. Your brain is capable of making and storing enough connections and information that the total number would be expressed by a one, followed by 6.5 million miles of zeros-a number that would stretch from the Earth to the Moon and back 14 times.
  • Winners form the habit of concentrating on what they want to have happen; losers concentrate on what they don't want to have happen. In pressure situations, winners call up past wins; losers recall past looses. Both are self-fulfilling.
  • Pressure is neither good nor bad. Pressure can be converted into positive, productive, energetic tension... or negative destructive, limiting tension. The choice is yours my friend.
  • The anxiety and suffering caused by your own personal problems will virtually disappear the moment you pour yourself into doing something to help someone else. This is one of life's most interesting phenomena. Those who are most in need of help frequently receive it by turning outward and helping others.
  • If you sense that you have made a good decision, don't wait-act immediately! Without action, a good decision has little meaning in the world. Procrastination and second-guessing are the mortal enemies of spontaneous brilliance and inspiration.
  • By intentionally raising your own expectations of yourself, you will create a gap between where you are and where you wish to be. Having created this gap for yourself, everything about you will automatically begin working on your behalf to close it. This explains why goal-setters enjoy boundless energy.
  • Reevaluate your goals with an eye toward balance. Setting goals in one or two areas of your life, while forgetting the others, is like trying to row a boat with only one oar.
  • As someone once said, "I felt sorry for myself because I had no shoes, and then I met a person who had no feet". Aren't you lucky?
  • It pays to share. The more you pass on to others, the more you get to have for yourself.
  • Why not give teamwork a try? Put two people with a common goal together and, suddenly, one plus one is more than two.
  • You are completely responsible for all your responses to other persons and events. You might not control your feelings but you do control your response. Therein lies your freedom.
  • When an archer misses the mark, he turns and thinks about what he did wrong. To miss the bull's eye, is never the fault of the target. To improve your aim-improve yourself."
  • Before us lie two paths-honesty or dishonesty. The ignorant takes the dishonest path; the wise the honest one. For in helping others, you help yourself. Those who remain honest know the truth: character overshadows money, trust rises above fame and honesty will always be the best policy.
  • Love is the most important ingredient of success. Without it, your life echoes emptiness. With it, your life vibrates warmth and meaning. Even in hardship, love shines through. Therefore, search for love-because if you don't have it, you are not really living-only breathing.
  • The best way to determine what motivates people?
  • Creativity flows in the direction of rewards.
  • Planning is 80% thinking and 20% writing. Then 100% doing.

As a NASA Motivating Undergraduates in Science and Technology (MUST) Scholar, I attended the 2011 Symposium were we networked with NASA scholars, representatives and staff, benefited from the numerous workshops, and learned from inspiring speakers. The symposium provided invaluable training to develop expertise in the "seven survival skills" necesary for success in the competitive climate of the 21st century.

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Copyright © Aida Yoguely Cortés-Peña. All Rights Reserved.