Decisions Make Me Hungry

May 27, 2008
By Ken Johnson, Park Ridge, IL

Decisions Make Me Hungry

I was 11 years old with 40 bucks in my pocket. I got on my red bike and started pedaling towards the local hobby shop, wondering how I was going to spend my money that I earned by helping my father build a brick wall for a taxi company in Chicago.
As I rode on my bike I imagined all the rockets, trains, and airplane models the hobby shop would have. I’d pick out as many rocket models and motors as possible, grab some CA glue and head toward the counter. I always remember buying as much as I could afford. Once I got home, I would get to work. Rip open the package, read the instructions, glue the pieces together, paint the rocket. Rip open the package, read the instructions, glue the pieces together, paint the rocket. I remember building five rockets in one day.

Now I’m seventeen years old, and I got accepted to work at the Glenn Research Space Center down in Ohio. This is a summer internship where I will be working with scientists and engineers. I want to excel in everything I need to in order to become the best fighter pilot to my ability. This story should be about one decision that helped shape who I am now, but I feel there has been more than one. The decisions I made in my life to get where I am now are innumerable. It can’t be one. I made the decisions to participate in Team America Rocketry Challenge (T.A.R.C.), Student Launch Initiative (S.L.I.), INSPIRE, and everything in-between.

“Team Orion from St. Andrews Park Ridge Illinois, with a F60-5T motor, launching in 5-4-3-2-1 lift-off! Straight launch, arching over at apogee, parachutes deployed, nice landing, and another beautiful flight from Team Orion.”

I heard this almost a hundred times as I practiced for T.A.R.C. It never got boring, but something inside me got hungry for more. I became a finalist for TARC for the first time in 8th grade. I went down to Virginia for the finals. We were the youngest team there. The competition ranged all the way from 8th grade to the 12th grade. We placed around 50th in the Nation.
Next year’s session, my team became a finalist again and placed 11th in the nation, opening up a window for my team to have an opportunity to participate in SLI (Student Launch Initiative). Only 10 out of the 20 teams that placed 20th or better in TARC got chosen. We were one of those teams. We excelled faster than we ever thought. We wrote Proposals, Design reviews, Preliminary reviews, and other reports. We got team uniforms and team pictures. We completed our rocket way before the deadline. We had a professional sports car painter paint our rocket. We got honored by the Major twice. We gave presentations on the aviation hero stage up in Oshkosh; the worlds largest air show. We gave presentations at libraries and schools. We were sponsored by the worlds leading aerospace companies. We were the first team to accomplish all of this. These were all decisions made to feed my hunger, but it got worse. For the next two years my team was a national TARC finalist and a second year team in SLI. We were in the paper eight times; two of those eight times there were articles about us on the front page. We got interviewed and also got on the radio. I was still feeling hungry. So I decided to try and get chosen for a very competitive summer internship with NASA. I remembered it took me a week to gather, fill, and mail all the papers that were needed, which included my high school transcript, medical information, teacher recommendation letters, records, and more. I waited two months and there was no reply. I was starting to get nervous. I remember coming home after Track and Field, very tired and exhausted. I opened the front door, staggered in hunched over. I dropped my bags and just stood there for a second or two thinking about something. It could have been anything, but I really don’t remember. The phone started ringing. The next thing I knew I’m reading the caller I.D. on my home phone. ‘U.S. Government’, it read. What the hell! Why is the United States Government calling me? I answered and all of a sudden I was being interviewed. I remember answering really off the wall questions. I felt extremely nervous and some questions were so strange it took me a minute or two to comprehend them. I had a gut feeling it was the INSPIRE program I signed up for. I wanted to sound as intelligent and professional as possible, but it was hard for me to answer some of their questions.
When the interview was over, the woman asked me “What is this call for and what does S.T.E.M. stand for?”
I answered, “I believe this is the INSPIRE program and S.T.E.M. stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.”
“Thank you for your time”, she hung up.
The next couple of weeks I waited and waited. May 1stcame and I got an e-mail congratulating me on being chosen to participate in the INSPIRE program. I became one out of ten students that got chosen out of the Midwest region. I will be leaving June 16th and will be coming home August 8th. Still, this decision didn’t feed my hunger. More decisions will be make during my life. One is being made right now. As I write about my experiences with the subject I love, I think about the urge I have to attempt and complete challenges and obstacles, whether it’s to be the first man on mars and/or become a fighter pilot. All I know is that the decisions I make right now are crucial; they shape my personality and character and open doors to possibilities in my future. The important decisions I made will help me make more important decisions in the future.

Similar Articles


This article has 0 comments.

Parkland Book