Rachael Waddle of Mount Carmel, Ill., a senior at Southeast Missouri State University recently interned over the summer at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Cape Canaveral, Fla.
She interned with RehabWorks, the athletic training department within NASA.
"I worked with KSC and Cape Canaveral Air Force base employees doing rehabilitation and new patient evaluations," she says. "I also had the opportunity to do outreach projects, such as injury prevention badges and presentations.
"I was able to see the shuttle Endeavour launch, and I got to take a tour of the shuttles Atlantis and Discovery," Rachael says.
Rachael says she applied for the internship in the spring, went through a telephone interview, and ultimately was offered the internship with NASA.
"While RehabWorks likes to take as many students as they can, I am one of three students that received their summer internship," she says.
Rachael's major is athletic training.
"I gained more knowledge and experience in my field," she says, "especially in rehabilitation and evaluations. The experience gave me to have more confidence and made me feel better prepared to graduate."
Rachael says after she graduates she plans on pursuing a master's degree in athletic training.
"My goal is to gain a graduate assistantship at a school, so I can work as an ATC (certified athletic trainer), while I get my master's degree," she says.
Rachael says Southeast has given her the right type of education and tools to succeed and complete her internship.
"Since there is a small student-to-teacher ratio, the instructors really get to know all of us on a very individual basis," she says. "I always feel very comfortable to ask questions and speak up in class."
Rachael says she also gets the opportunity at Southeast to be assigned into clinical settings and to work with certified athletic trainers.
"I get a lot of hands-on experience, and I take my classroom knowledge and apply it to the real world."
Outside of classes, Rachael says she participates in many activities.
"My friends and I like to go to Capaha baseball games," she says. "We go shopping, fishing, walking and bowling -- just about anything to have a good time.
"I have had a great time here [Southeast] the past three years and I have made some great friends," she commented.
Rachael shares the following advice with new Southeast students.
"Make the best out of every situation. Not everything goes perfectly or exactly how
you want it," she says. "There is a positive to every situation. It might be a stretch,
but it's there and sometimes that can be the only thing that pulls you through."