Recently, a select few of Bear Essential News Young Reporters were chosen to take part in a program to be paired up with one University of Arizona science graduate student. I was able to work with Cassandra Lejoly, who is studying to obtain a Ph.D. in Planetary Sciences.
Since the age of 9, Lejoly told people she wanted to be an astrophysicist. “Science has always been a passion of mine,” Lejoly says. “I have always been curious, I love asking questions, I love knowing everything. Science has taught me that there will be times where the answer is simply not known and that I must accept it.”
Lejoly has taken part in many great projects, including research Comet 1P/Halley. “I learned immense amounts of knowledge on comets in general, but also on Comet Halley specifically. This research project was the first time that I had known more about a subject than other people in the field. It is weird, yet amazing, to know that you can be an expert in a field.”
Currently, the UA is a leader among universities in the United States in mission and research launched by NASA. The most recent research was the OSIRIS-REx, which launched September 8, 2016. NASA has also conducted experiments on lunar greenhouse growing capabilities in partnership with the UA. The UA’s research reputation with NASA and Bear Essential News’ goal to introduce everyone to science in a simple and understandable way while making it fun and exciting is the perfect combination for Lejoly’s passion. She says she would like to be a professor at a research university because she loves teaching students and also doing research. She “hopes to inspire younger minds into joining this beautiful field” that she “finds amazing.” She would at the very least like to leave young minds “with a sense of understanding about planetary science and astronomy that allows them to appreciate all the work that is being achieved in this field.”
Lejoly’s words of advice and encouragement to our young readers who may want to pursue a similar interest is, “First...don’t ever give up. Failure is just an opportunity to start over. Planetary sciences, as are all the physical sciences, is not an easy field to become a part of. You will have to work extremely hard at all stages of your life. If you are motivated, you keep your chin up, and you work as hard as you can, it will be the path you achieve eventually. A hard truth that I learned was that sometimes, an opportunity you really want is not available at this time, and you just have to keep looking for different opportunities...At this point, everything is working out as it should, and the path I’m taking might be different from other people, but that does not make it less valid. No matter where you come from, if you know where you are going, you will get there!”
To learn more about Bear Essential News ScienTastic program visit: Bear Essential News: Scientastic.