Austin Urges Fifth Graders to Study Hard and Go to College

by Heather Golden
posted October 01, 2013

Dr. Wanda Austin spent the morning of Friday, Sept. 27, in Los Angeles with Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) Scholar Academy students during the History Makers fourth annual day of service program.

She began with a slideshow of photos of herself growing up. She emphasized the importance of education and going to college, and passed on to the students advice her own parents had given her years before.

“Doing well in school is the most important thing you can do to be successful,” she said.

She then discussed Aerospace’s role within the space community, and explained the impact weather and communication satellites have on the students’ world.

Dr. Wanda Austin shakes hands with President Barack Obama. This photo was the one students at the KIPP Scholar Academy in Los Angeles seemed to enjoy the most during Austin’s presentation at the school Sept. 27. (Photo: The Aerospace Corporation)

Dr. Wanda Austin shakes hands with President Barack Obama. This photo was the one students at the KIPP Scholar Academy in Los Angeles seemed to enjoy the most during Austin’s presentation at the school Sept. 27. (Photo: The Aerospace Corporation)

The students, all in the fifth grade, were enthusiastic and eagerly answered all of Austin’s questions during each slide. The photo that garnered the most attention and excitement depicted Austin meeting President Barack Obama.

At the end, the students had a few questions of their own for Austin, which ranged from asking about an upcoming satellite launch to why Austin moved across the country to join the Aerospace team more than three decades ago. They also demonstrated, through song, a few of the things they had recently learned, such as counting in multiples of six and the state capitals.

The History Makers Back to School initiative brings African American leaders into schools to interact with students firsthand and to raise student awareness about the achievements of some accomplished African Americans in their local communities. Close to 500 History Makers visited schools in 30 states and 67 cities to tell their personal stories and provide important examples of black leadership.