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Astronaut Wendy Lawrence shares the power of a dream


Lawrence shows the audience what a flame looks like in space.

Lawrence shows the audience what a flame looks like in space.

Wendy Lawrence was 10 years old when astronauts first landed on the moon. She was so mesmerized that she inched closer and closer to her TV screen to watch the landing. She confidently told her parents that she was going to be an astronaut when she grew up.

She followed through on her dream. On Monday, Feb. 19, Captain Lawrence spoke about pursuing her astronaut dream to an audience in Emens Auditorium. Sarah Vise, a Ball State University student majoring in physics and astronomy, introduced Lawrence. Vise said she, too, spent her childhood dreaming of becoming an astronaut.

Lawrence shared the story of her journey through the Naval Academy and MIT to her destination at NASA. Her education and training prepared her when it came time to apply to be an astronaut.

There were times when Lawrence felt like she couldn’t make her dream come true and she wanted to quit. But she kept her support system in mind and learned that failure is a part of life.

“Asking for help is not a sign of weakness,” Lawrence said. “I contend it’s a sign of strength.”

The audience ranged from preschool-aged kids to retired seniors, but it appears there wasn’t a single person Lawrence couldn’t fascinate with her stories and photos from space. She shared images of the Auroras from above Earth, she shared her feelings of preparing to launch into orbit and she tickled the science bone of the STEM members of the audience.

Lawrence describes how she felt taking off in a rocket for the first time.

One story stuck with Ball State freshman, Amanda Jager. Lawrence told the tale of coming back down to Earth and looking out the rocket’s window to see a ball of tangerine-colored fire engulfing the vessel.

“That was pretty amazing,” Jager said.

After sharing her stories, Lawrence opened the floor for questions. She answered a girl, who couldn’t be older than 5, when she asked how astronauts do laundry; then smoothly transitioned to talking about preparing for the STS-114 launch knowing it was a “return to flight” mission. She effortlessly navigated the simple questions from young explorers as well as the difficult questions from engineers and physics students.

Lawrence’s main message she wanted to get across was to pursue a goal at all costs.

“Don’t sell yourself short,” she said. “Dream your dream.”

Lawrence hopes she and her career stand as an example of the power of a dream.

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