RALSTON, Neb. (KMTV) - A recent Ralston Middle School graduate wrote multiple essays, received letters of recommendation, and had a special science project on vitamin C -- all to be offered a scholarship to participate in a NASA space camp.
"It doesn't really matter your age. They've got ones for older kids, ones for younger kids. I just say give it a shot. You could apply for the scholarship and not make it, but they offer it every year, so just give it a shot," said Brenden Cunningham, an incoming freshman at Ralston High School.
Cunningham spent three weeks at three separate space camps, broadening his horizon of space education.
"For the Mars mission, I was the Mars commander. We were in the base, and I did an EVA where I took some tanks and I transferred them to a different unit, and then I took off for Mars. The other one I was the ISS Commander and I just managed the station, did a few experiments, then I transferred to the shuttle to head back to Earth,” he said.
Cunningham has always been fascinated with space and hopes to turn what he learned into a career.
"Space careers definitely just draw me, especially the science aspects of them. Half of our crew was mission control and saw what they did and it's just as difficult and just as fun as the actual people doing the mission,” he said.
Cunningham's teacher hopes by sharing his story more students will be interested in space.
"We talked about having him come back this year as a student leader, as a high schooler, and present kind of what he did at the space camp to some of the seventh and eighth graders, but also help them see how they can apply for scholarships to be able to do similar opportunities," said Christine Redemske, a teacher at Ralston Middle School.
During camp, Cunningham was able to meet the Inspiration 4 crew, which is the upcoming all-civilian mission in space.
"It was interesting to hear their different background. One of them is actually going to be the first cancer survivor in space, and is actually now a cancer research doctor," said Cunningham.
His teachers are excited to see what he does next.
"Not only was I his math teacher in eighth grade, and his health teacher in seventh grade, I also got to coach him in Lego League for two years," Redemske said. "That's a robotics and engineering opportunity as well. So just to see him take that opportunity himself, and just go with it, very proud of him."
Two camps were in Huntsville Alabama, and one was in Hutchinson, Kansas.