Making Dreams Come True

Luck or God, I am thankful.

Around the age of 4 I discovered that I liked art. A lot. I also discovered I liked to make stuff, like “food” and “toys”.

Around the age of 6 I discovered that I was in love with the night sky. I wanted to touch the stars. I also think hamsters are cute.

Around the age of 11 I discovered that I wanted to try sports and join choir just because my friends were doing it. By age 14 I discovered that doing what my friends do doesn’t always make me happiest.

Around the age of 16 I discovered that you can be artistic and a bit nerdy. I entered art shows and was holding down a 4.5 GPA.

Around the age of 18 I discovered I didn’t get accepted to my dream university Harvard, but realized that Virgil “Gus” Grissom didn’t need Harvard to make his dreams come true. Hail Purdue!

Around the age of 19 I discovered that a large university was not in the stars for me, rather an extension campus closer to home was. I worried about this move.

Around the age of 20 I discovered the taste of flight in a jet. I wanted more of this after my study abroad to Germany, so I began pursuing my private pilots license.

Around the age of 21 I discovered that I was selected as a Brooke Owens Fellowship girl, and I would be working with scaled composites. My heart is so full.


My life has been through a lot, and I have seen a lot. Between these years of discoveries, were a lot of dead end paths and distractions that pulled me away from my hearts truest desires, of which had yet to be discovered. From the little errors of taking advice from bitter adults, to the big detriments like my mother and her addictions, I always seemed to find my way back to what made my heart smile. The universe in its entirety, being breathed in and out of my lungs, every second of every day since August 19th, 1996. After hard days at school or days that I simply felt worthless, I’d look up at the sky and imagine looking back from where I was currently looking. There is so much to look forward to.

Year after year in college, I will attend the huge university wide engineering career fair. The lines for any of the aerospace companies will spiral and snake their way around the tables and booths of lesser known engineering companies. I always look at these students and think, what is it that they have that I don’t? I want to have what they have so I can be in an aerospace community. As I would be thinking these thoughts, a Cessna 172 would fly final over the thousands of students and it would feel like everything stopped and all the chatter had died. I would always admire and smile at the buzz of its engine. Until I felt someone brush past me or someone ask if I was waiting in line. This is when I noticed not a soul was looking up. I am competing in the wrong race, there has to be a competition more suitable for individuals that are strictly fueled by passion for this stuff.

brooke owens logo.JPG

I introduce you to the Brooke Owens Fellowship (BOF).

As a blogger, I enjoy reading other bloggers work. Sometimes I’ll find myself clicking through bloggers sites like people do when they’re going through their friends on Facebook. I started down the rabbit hole after applying to Ball Aerospace, as I’m sure thousands of other students just like my self according to a simple resume have already done, for a summer internship opportunity. This would have been my third time applying to ball, expecting another email saying they regretfully can’t offer me a position, and to apply again. This is about how every intern job I apply for seems to go. It’s easy for a student to expect the less than satisfactory result when they only ever get denial. I must admit, after every email from various companies telling me that I won’t be offered a job, I look at how I can improve. From my resume, to how I spend my time outside of class, I had to become something else other than who I was. So I thought.

After wrapping up my applications for the night, I started looking at a flight schools blog, where instructors talked about all sorts of aviation related topics. I looked at featured students, and I noticed that there was a majority of men pursuing their privates pilots license. Then I saw a young woman. I clicked her story and read about her recent solo and it provided a link to her blog project she was doing for the summer. This is where I read about her being a Brooke Owens Fellow. I was impressed with her drive, her love of aviation, and great blog skills. I decided to look into the Brooke Owens Fellowship just to see for myself.

I went straight to the Brooke Owens Fellowship web page. The first thing I read was, “paid internships and executive mentor-ship for exceptional undergraduate women in aerospace”. Cool, this sounds like me. What does this mean though for me? It means that I won’t simply be given an aerospace job because I am a woman, but it means that I will have been given an opportunity to rise up in a male dominated field. Super cool. Who is Brooke Owens exactly? A woman who came from a small town who had dreams and goals that came true with her passions and shear determination. She, like myself, also loved helping the humanities and giving back to the earth we all share as humans. Not only were these attributes similar to mine, but she was also a person who loved aviation every bit as much as aerospace. She too was a pilot. The heart of a pilot is about as passionate as they come. This is when I knew that this was the program that I needed to pour my energy in.

I immediately started working on my essay prompts, mind map drawing, and my aviation video (I talked about airplane safety with my AWESOME boyfriend Jake). This was finally a race worth running. While I was focusing most of my energy on this fellowship opportunity, I knew that nothing is for certain, regardless of how strong your gut says this is for you. I had gotten a call from a company called Gentex, a “smart” car-mirror manufacturer, in Michigan. They wanted to have an interview with me for a summer internship. As my dad drove me up to Michigan, I was working on my mind map drawing. I probably should have been focusing on my upcoming interview, but I couldn’t shut off the drive to pour my efforts into the BOF application. The interview with Gentex went alright. Although, I think I messed up when they showed me the assembly line where I’d be working on PLC’s most of the time. My face had to show nothing but dread, no matter how hard I tried to hide it.


This is a picture of the Mind Map that I submitted. This mind map not only showed the judges an overall picture of who I am, but it helped my mind get out of the one track thinking that typical internship applications make you get in (GPA, work experience, credits, etc.). The Mind Map was like an exercise for my brain to start accessing all the things that make me, me. – you can go to this link to find out even more for yourself about BOF.

I decided to write this blog post to not just promote the Brooke Owens Fellowship, but to talk about how important it is to never lose yourself. Being true to who you are will ensure you end up where you can reach your fullest potentials. It’d be pretty hard for a muscle car to compete with a Ferrari, but that doesn’t make it a wonderful car. I know I qualified for this fellowship because I vulnerably displayed everything I am. I am sure other young women applying did the same thing, and I am not sure what exactly helped me make the cut, other than being myself in my element. I hope that somewhere and somehow, someone who needs to be lifted up reads this and realizes that being themselves will get them further than any resume ever will. This summer will be filled with a lot more self discovering and friendship growth. This summer, more than work experience will be gained. I am so proud to be part of this fellowship to honor Brooke Owens. I am also proud to be a future employee of Scaled Composites in Mojave, CA this summer. It’s almost comical now to look back at all the long hours put into all the other internship applications, and the feelings of defeat. Now I see why it didn’t work out with anyone else. ♥





Author: Courtney Simpson

I am a Purdue University Mechatronics Major, currently in my Senior year. HOORAY! I am also proudly a Brooke Owens Fellow. I am a woman in aerospace and I have a family of 80 women just as passionate as I am about all things in the sky. I have worked closely with other Engineering students on some really amazing projects, and have big ideas I hope to implement some day in the tech world! If I'm not at school being an engineer, I am either at the gym lifting heavy objects, or I'm in my art room or kitchen letting my creativity run loose. My passions are not so technical. They're deep and sporadic in nature. Welcome to not so technical blog where we put science into life, and emotion into living!

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