For the first time, two Syracuse University students have been named in one year as Astronaut Scholars. Syracuse is one of two universities nationwide with multiple recipients of the Astronaut Scholarship this year. Bethany Murphy, a senior environmental engineering major…
Environmental Engineering Senior Named Astronaut Scholar
Reilly Duffy, a senior majoring in environmental engineering, is one of 50 students from 36 universities to be named a 2018-19 Astronaut Scholar by the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation.
Founded by the Mercury 7 astronauts, the foundation awards scholarships to students in their junior or senior year who are pursuing studies in science, technology, engineering or mathematics and who plan to pursue research or advance their field upon completion of their final degree. Nominees are selected on the basis of having shown initiative, creativity and excellence in their chosen field.
In addition to a cash award of up to $10,000, the scholarship includes professional mentoring and the opportunity to participate in a professional development program; a trip to the Innovators Gala in Washington, D.C., in August; and membership in the Astronaut Scholar Honor Society.
Syracuse University News Services reached out to Duffy to get his thoughts on the award.
01What was your reaction to winning this award?
It was just happiness and feeling like a small burden was taken off my shoulders. I first heard about the scholarship from Jolynn Parker, who is the director of the Center for Fellowship and Scholarship Advising here at Syracuse University. She told me that we had about a week to get all the materials in. After a quick week of writing and editing, I submitted my application and went back to my school work. All the hard work throughout the semester really pays off when things like this happen.
02Where does your interest in the space program come from? Would this be a possible career path, or is it more of a personal fascination?
I mean, I do not know a single person who is not interested in space, but maybe that’s just engineering students. I do not think my career path will necessarily be within the space program, but I’ve always had my interests in it.
NASA does a large amount of research about Earth and its atmosphere, ecosystems and weather patterns, so I think it would be pretty incredible being a part of that if my interests aligned with the space program’s future plans.
03Part of this award involves your attending a gala event in August where you will have the chance to meet members of the space program. How do you feel about that?
I’m a bit nervous, because I’ll be standing in front of crowds shaking hands with some very important people, even an astronaut! It is more of a nervous excitement, because who can really say they got to meet an actual astronaut? I’ll probably get over the nerves, but regardless, I’m just happy to be a part of something like this. I never really expected this much from my academic career, so I’m just happy I’m along for the ride.