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Near Disaster in Space Leads to New Direction for Cincinnatus Scholar

Date: Nov. 29, 2001
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Photos by Colleen Kelley
Archive: Profiles

"Houston, we have a problem." Those words held the nation in suspense in 1970, as the troubled Apollo 13 mission left three astronauts stranded in space without power. The event occurred 13 years before UC Cincinnatus Scholar Emily Behan was born, but it's why she is majoring in UC's aerospace engineering program. Emily Behan

"I saw the movie, 'Apollo 13' when I was a freshman in high school and when I saw everyone at ground control working to solve the problems, I knew I wanted to do that. So then, I started reading books about the Apollo space program and broadened my interest to flight and I just love it."

The West Chester, Ohio student entered UC in fall 2001 with a full $60,000 Cincinnatus Scholarship Award to pay for tuition, books, room, and board. Emily says she received an invitation to compete in Cincinnatus after enrolling in the engineering program, which got her interested in UC because of its coop opportunities. She spent the summer working in the aerospace engineering lab. Emily Behan examines the small scale parts of a jet engine

The oldest of six siblings, Emily attended Mt. Notre Dame High School, where math and science were her favorite subjects. In addition to her excellent academics, her dedication to service also opened the opportunity to compete for a Cincinnatus scholarship. As a representative on the planning team of the American Heritage Girls, Emily helped organize fun science-related activities for the organization's annual spring Camporee in Indiana. "For the one on outer space, I was in charge of a planetarium, and we made the planetarium out of dome tents.

"I just wanted to expose them to how neat and fun it could be, and show them that science is not always hard and when it is, it's like a nice challenge. We would do small experiments that were appropriate for their age."

Emily adds that because the Cincinnatus competition considers service as well as grades, she felt UC was considering the "whole person" in awarding its scholarships, not just academics. Furthermore, she says coming to campus in Feb. 2001 to compete with her peers led to friendships that are still strong at UC today. "So, if I were an incoming student, I would go (to the competition) just because of that. It was awesome. Working in the Engineering Research Center computer lab

"It was a little overwhelming for me at first, because there were so many people, I didn't think I had a chance. I was also a little nervous about the essay part of the competition, but it's not something that requires background. You're writing about how you feel about a particular subject."

Emily says that about a month after competition, she was called back to UC for an interview, "to talk with me a little more about who I am."

As part of her experience at UC, Emily joined the Honors Scholars program for academically talented students. She especially liked the Honors Retreat that was held for incoming honors freshmen just before fall quarter. The retreat is aimed at helping students transition from high school to college studies. Emily says she picked up some good tips, especially since she didn't need to study very much in high school, but hits the books much more in college. "I also made a lot of friends on that retreat who are in my classes." One of Emily's favorite courses this quarter is the Honors course, Film and History of World War Two, taught by Thomas Sakmyster, UC history professor.

Emily's advice for students entering the Cincinnatus Competition is to relax and "just be yourself. Don't be nervous, there was nothing difficult about it. Just talk to other people and meet other people. That was one of the best parts about going."

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