Sibley sophomore Hannah Sherman wins Brooke Owens Fellowship

By: Chris Dawson

Sherman joins 46 undergraduates from around the world chosen for recognition by the nationally acclaimed nonprofit program.

Sibley School sophomore Hannah Sherman, who was on the Integration and Test sub-team of the Cislunar Explorers CubeSat research team in Cornell’s Space Systems Design Studio and a structures and payloads member of the CUAir student project team, will receive an aerospace internship, senior mentorship, and access to a lifelong professional network that now numbers close to 300 former and current “Brookie” Fellows.

Brooke Owens was a pilot and space policy expert who died in 2016 at the age of 35. The eponymous fellowship was started in 2017 to honor the good work done by Owens in her career at NASA, the FAA, and the White House.

Hannah ShermanSherman clearly remembers sitting in some of her middle school classes and streaming the live feed from the International Space Station. In high school, her math and physics classes coalesced into a strong interest in engineering, which she brought to Cornell. In her first semester in Ithaca Sherman saw a flyer for an information session about Professor Mason Peck’s Space Systems Design Studio. She went to the session and she was hooked.

Interestingly, at several points in the past few years Sherman worked directly with people who were either Brooke Owens Fellows (also called ‘Brookies’) themselves or knew someone who was. Sherman’s high school calculus teacher came into class one day and shared with the students the news that her daughter had just been chosen for this great program called the Brooke Owens Fellowship, so that planted the seed.

As a high school senior Sherman was trying to figure out where to go to college and as part of her research, she connected with a member of CUAir, who just so happened to be a Brookie. And then on the Cislunar Explorer satellite project the team lead and sub-team lead Sherman worked with were also both Brookies. In fact, this is the fourth year in a row at least one Sibley School student has been chosen as a Brooke Owens Fellow.

Sibley School Professor Elaine Petro has known several of the Cornell Brookies through classes or extracurricular activities. She is excited for their success and also thankful for such a program. “I am really pleased this fellowship exists and at our Cornell students’ success in being selected,” Petro said. “As women still represent a significant gender minority in aerospace (around 10% to 20% of the workforce), this fellowship is recognizing how valuable these future leaders are to the aerospace industry.”

Sherman will spend her summer in Virginia, in an internship at a Northrop Grumman facility in their Space Systems sector. “These internship, mentorship, and networking opportunities will be extremely valuable in helping Hannah and the rest of her cohort navigate their early careers,” Petro said.

Sherman, who is on the Executive Board for Women of Aeronautics and Astronautics at Cornell, is excited by the opportunities being a Brooke Owens Fellow will bring. The mission of the Brooke Owens Fellowship is “to serve both as an inspiration and as a career boost to capable young women and other gender minorities who, like Brooke, aspire to explore our sky and stars, to shake up the aerospace industry, and to help their fellow people here on planet Earth.” This is right in line with Sherman’s goals.

You can learn more about the Brooke Owens Fellowship here.

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