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Hagerstown teen sets sights on space

August 25, 2008|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN -- Meagan Graff was accepted into the engineering programs at Virginia Tech and the University of Maryland, but she chose to attend Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Fla., to be closer to NASA.

One day, the 17-year-old Hagerstown resident said, she wants to work for the federal space agency.

"I'd like to end up with an internship at NASA, and get a job there or with Boeing," Graff said. "I was absolutely excited when I was accepted" at Embry-Riddle.

Graff said she is on an accelerated track to earn bachelor's and master's degrees in aerospace engineering in five years.

Her classes begin Oct. 26.

Graff graduated earlier this year from North Hagerstown High School and is working at the Hagerstown YMCA to earn money to help pay Embry-Riddle's tuition fees. She said she is relying more, however, on two scholarships -- one academic and the other from her fellow parishioners at Zion Reformed United Church of Christ -- to pay about $8,500 a year over the course of her college life.


"I was very happy that they wanted me to pursue my career goal," she said.

Graff said she graduated from high school with a 4.1 grade-point average, all the while carrying a heavy academic load that included advanced calculus and chemistry.

Graff said not seeing her friends every day will be a huge culture shock, but she is preparing herself for the change.

"I'm very nervous," she said. "I'm going to be down there by myself. It's my first shot at independence. It's kind of cool, but kind of scary."

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