The Brooke Owens Fellowship—a nationally-acclaimed nonprofit organization recognizing exceptional undergraduate women and other gender minorities with space and aviation internships, senior mentorship, and a lifelong professional network—announced its newest class of Brooke Owens Fellows today.
The Class of 2021 marks the fifth class of “Brookie” Fellows and were selected from the Fellowship’s most competitive application year. More than 800 promising and talented students applied from Ivy League universities, major research universities, historically black colleges and universities, liberal arts colleges, community colleges, and major international universities. Forty-four Fellows were selected through a competitive application process involving written and creative submissions, interviews with the Fellowship’s volunteer-based leadership team and its close network, and interviews with the Host Companies. The selected Fellows have demonstrated their desire to pursue a career in aerospace, a record of leadership, a commitment to their communities, and their inexhaustible creativity.
The Brooke Owens Fellows will be matched to an executive-level mentor committed to helping the Fellows launch their careers. This summer, the Fellows will start their internships and come together virtually for the annual Brooke Owens Summit. Like last year, the Fellowship commits to providing these experiences even if the Covid-19 pandemic continues through the summer. The Class of 2021 will also become part of the network of more than iso Brookie alumnae spanning all aspects of space and aviation including engineering, scientific research, policy, journalism, and entrepreneurship. Some of these alumnae join the Fellowship as Alumnae Volunteers to foster the next generation of Brooke Owens Fellows.
The Brooke Owens Fellowship was founded in 2016 to honor the memory of beloved industry pioneer and accomplished pilot D. Brooke Owens, who passed away in June 2016 at the age of 35, after a hard-fought battle with cancer. The program was co-founded by Lori Garver, the former Deputy Administrator of NASA and now CEO of Earthrise Alliance; Cassie Lee, Advanced Programs Lead for Weather and Remote Sensing at Lockheed Martin Space; and William Pomerantz, the Vice President for Special Projects at Virgin Orbit. The Brooke Owens Fellowship celebrates its 5-year mission and legacy of disrupting the historical gender imbalance in the aerospace industry by continuing its mission to provide opportunities and access to talented young professionals from historically-underrepresented genders.
This past year, as organizations across the United States underwent long-overdue and necessary reflection into the historical marginalization of racial groups, the Brooke Owens Fellowship underwent a change in leadership bringing on new perspectives. Garver stepped down from the Executive Team in June 2020 and was recently recognized with the WIA Lifetime Achievement Award for her dedication to the program. Three new leaders were welcomed to the Executive Team: Diana Trujillo, aerospace engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory; Caroline Juang, Ph.D. student at Columbia University; and Kayla Watson, System Reliability Engineer at Amazon Prime Air. Meanwhile, Pomerantz co-founded the Patti Grace Smith Fellowship in October 2020 to introduce Black and African-American undergraduate students to their first aerospace internship, and now he leads both sister Fellowships. The Patti Grace Smith Fellowship is the second Fellowship program modeled after the Brooke Owens Fellowship, joining the Matthew Isakowitz Fellowship Program as a spinoff sister program.
Together, the 5-person Brooke Owens Fellowship Executive Team led the selection for this year’s Fellows. Reflecting on the latest class, Lee says, “The Brooke Owens Fellowship Executive Team is thrilled to welcome our Class of 2021. As we celebrate our fifth year of the Fellowship we extend our sincere gratitude to all of the Host companies, Mentors, donors, applicants, alums, and supporters who have made this program and our two spinoffs an extraordinary success.”