During their Career Series this month, the HDS B.R.I.D.G.E.S. students were able to connect with special guests, Sean Dunne, who serves as the Resources Management Officer (RMO) in the Exploration Research and Technology Group at Kennedy Space Center, and Dean Reges, a celebrated educator, author, and prominent figure in the field of observational astronomy. Through Zoom, the students had the opportunity to listen to the guests share their personal career journeys and provide insights into their respective professions.

The initial guest speaker, Sean, recounted his childhood dream of working for NASA and shared how he persisted through multiple rejections before being offered a position. His unwavering dedication to contributing to mankind through his work at the Kennedy Space Center motivated him to apply to NASA a total of ten times until he landed an interview. Currently serving as a Resource Manager, Sean’s role involves securing adequate funding to support various space programs.

During his presentation, Sean emphasized the significance of possessing the four “P’s” – Personality, Professionalism, Passion, and Perseverance – to attain a fulfilling and prosperous career. He elaborated on the significance of each attribute and how they contribute to success. Towards the end of his talk, Sean expressed his awe at witnessing a rocket launch from the Kennedy Space Center and urged the students to witness one for themselves at least once in their lifetime.

In the subsequent segment, Dean Reges, an astronomer employed at the Cincinnati Observatory, shared his personal trajectory from high school to pursuing a career in astronomy. Dean disclosed to the students that his initial aspiration was to become a professional football player, but upon entering college, he realized that this dream would not come to fruition. Consequently, he pursued a career in teaching high school history and secured a position at a nearby planetarium, which ignited his love for space. After dedicating 25 years to astronomy, Dean authored six books and was featured in prestigious publications such as the New York Times and Washington Post.

The students posed a series of thought-provoking questions to Dean during the Q&A session. For instance, Daniel asked about his favorite planet, to which Dean responded that Saturn held a special place in his heart due to its fascinating rings that can be observed through a telescope. Meanwhile, Aaron asked Dean about his most cherished aspect of the job, to which he replied that he enjoyed sharing his knowledge about what he saw through the telescope. Other students inquired about the likelihood of extraterrestrial life or the possibility of alternate universes, but Dean explained that there is currently no evidence to support these hypotheses. As a result, astronomers cannot conclusively prove or disprove their existence at this time.

The presentations from Sean and Dean profoundly impacted the HDS B.R.I.D.G.E.S.  students, as they gained insights into careers that revolve around space. The importance of perseverance and persistence in pursuing one’s aspirations was a recurring theme throughout both talks. Additionally, the students were able to learn from the speakers’ personal experiences that their current professions were not necessarily the ones they had envisioned following their college graduation. Overall, the students were thoroughly engaged and enriched by the presentations.

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to Sean Dunne and Dean Reges for generously sharing their wisdom and expertise with the HDS B.R.I.D.G.E.S.  students. Their valuable insights and personal anecdotes will be immensely beneficial for the students as they begin to navigate their transition from high school to post-secondary education and beyond.