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Thursday, October 31, 2013
North Augusta High School students had the chance to learn quite a bit about space from an expert on Friday morning.
Russell Romanella, the director for safety and mission assurance at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, spoke for more than 40 students at the school’s auditorium and stayed for a lengthy question-and-answer session.
The event was put on by the Astronomy Club of Augusta, a group that serves the CSRA.
“What got me started with this is that 15 years ago, I was the deputy director of Space Station Processing at the Kennedy Space Center,” Romanella said. “They needed someone to talk about what was going on. My boss didn’t like going, so he asked me to do it. Then I went to a local elementary school and I talked there and had a good time.”
During the presentation, Romanella told students that he got kicked out of high school when he was in his senior year. He begged to get back in, going to night and summer school to graduate on time. He took two years off after graduation and worked at a restaurant, working 60-70 hours a week and making $200 a week.
Romanella said a friend told him simply to “pick on and start down that path,” when he told him his interests.
“I never envisioned that I was going to work for NASA,” he said. “I was going to a local community college, and I took chemistry. I had to drop it because I was failing. The second time I failed. The third time I got an A – and that’s when I figured it out. There’s nothing to be afraid of, and these things I thought were so hard really weren’t that hard. You just have to spend some time studying, getting someone to help you. Never believe you can’t learn.”
Scott Rodgers is the news editor at the North Augusta Star.