Name: Leah Ann Vilkanskas

Birth Date: November 3, 1987

Hometown: Manhattan, Kansas

Worksite: Boeing Intergrated Defense Systems

Career Interest: Mathematics


          Here's a thought about what I think: I think that big sunglasses and pink hats are the coolest things money can buy.

Apartment #: 2304

Roommate: Sadé Seaborne

What did you think about living in your apartment?

I loved my apartment and the people who lived there with me. We really were like a family, from making food for one another and eating together around the table, to throwing the “ball of shame” at each other.

What did you learn from being in an apartment with other people?

I learned that everyone grows up with different traditions and all of them are great. We should appreciate everyone’s differences and realize that those differences are what make them the great person they are.

Describe what you did and learned at your summer work site.

I go to work everyday and everyday I do something different. My first day I met my mentor and immediately he had me in a car driving over to a different building to see some tests being done. One day, I spent the entire time working with someone else making charts and graphs for his upcoming presentation. Another day I helped someone else write up a test plan. I have attended conference calls, met the Vice President and Program Manager of Space Shuttle NASA Systems, and laughed with my mentor. I have seen what so many different people do at this company besides just what my mentor does, and in turn learned a lot more about myself. I have learned so much, not only about the project I am working on, but about what it is like to be an employee at a company such as Boeing Integrated Defense Systems.

What was your favorite experience at NASA SHARP?

On the plane ride here worries floated around in my head: Will the other kids hate me? This program is EIGHT weeks long; will I be miserable for EIGHT weeks? Can I do my job successfully? Will my mentor like me? And so on. The plane landed and a van drove me to the apartments. Here’s the thing, the kids here didn’t hate me (or at least not that I know of), and I am making lifelong friends. My mentor is great; I can do my job well. I attend workshops on Fridays and learn things like the difference between analog and digital and how to use MATLAB. I get to go and experience new things all over Los Angeles. This program has taught me things most kids my age haven’t had the chance to learn yet. My favorite experience during the NASA SHARP program is the entire thing.

Words to live by:

“Never doubt that a small group of committed, dedicated people can change the world, indeed it is the only thing that ever has.” -Margaret Mead

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