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McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center Announces Winners of the 2020 Alex Higgins Memorial Space Camp Scholarship


The McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center is pleased to announce the winners of the 2020 Alex Higgins Memorial Space Camp Scholarship. Since 2001, more than 50 New Hampshire children and teens have traveled to the U.S. Space Camp & Rocket Center in Hunstville, AL, for a week of simulated astronaut or pilot training, thanks to the scholarship. This represents a combined effort among Alex Higgins’ family, the McAuliffe- Shepard Discovery Center, and the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation to honor Alex’s memory. Space Camp provides the opportunity for children and teens to engage in a science and engineering adventure that Alex Higgins truly enjoyed.

These extraordinary young people were chosen from a host of applicants by a panel composed of Discovery Center staff, Alex Higgins’ family members, and community volunteers. The application process included student essays, academic transcripts, and letters of recommendation.

Primary Crew

Ryan Casey
Grade 6, St. John Regional School Concord, NH

“I have enjoyed learning about space for as long as I can remember,” says Ryan. “My favorite books when I was very young were all about space. I have been a member of the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center for as long as I can remember and have had my birthday parties there and have gone to their summer camps. I have also always loved math, science, and space and want my future career to involve inventions that help develop new technology for space travel. This is an exciting opportunity to combine many of the things that I am interested in. I look forward to going to Space Camp because I want to learn about what is new and cutting edge about space and robotics.”




Sarah Lewis
Grade 10, Concord High School Concord, NH

Sarah has many interests, but all areas of science are what interest her the most academically. Trips over the years to the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center, the Boston Museum of Science, and NASA’s Kennedy SpaceCenter piqued an interest in aerospace that made her want to explore more what the space program is all about. Sarah is very excited and thankful to have earned an Alex Higgins Space Camp Scholarship and she is looking forward to learning first-hand about everything aerospace when she attends the camp. “I want to attend Space Camp because I want to be an astronautical engineer and go into space in a ship I was able to help design and build,” she says. “I think going to Space Camp would help me get an idea of what it would be like to work in this field.”

Ayanna Valeras
Grade 5, Christa McAuliffe Elementary School Concord, NH

“I want to go to Space Camp to start a step in being an astronaut and astrobiologist. I love space but I also want to pave a way and make a path for other girls who want to work at NASA or go to space,” explainsAyanna. “I want to experience what it would be like: the training, the people. I want to go beyond school and learn more about space and science. I want to be around people who are as zealous about STEM as I am. I want to go to Space Camp to start my journey of science and space but also to show other people and myself Ican do whatever I put my mind to.”

Backup Crew

Brooke Johnson; Grade 9, Pinkerton Academy; Derry, NH
Megan Plaza; Grade 5, Matthew Thornton School; Londonderry NH Brady Visaggio; Grade 7, Ross A. Lurgio Middle School; Bedford, NH

Honorable Mention

Samuel (Sam) Gorman; Grade 6, Dover Middle School; Dover, NH
Alexandra (Ally) MacDonald; Grade 9, Plymouth Regional High School; Plymouth, NH Julia Sweeney; Grade 9, Holy Family Academy; Manchester, NH



All of this year’s scholarship winners will be recognized at the Discovery Center’s AerospaceFest event, which is currently scheduled for September 12, 2020. In light of the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, this year’sscholarship has been extended, so that the Primary Crew winners may attend Space Camp in 2021 or as safety concerns dictate.

The McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center features 21st century interactive exhibits on aviation, astronomy, Earth and space sciences, an all-digital, full-dome planetarium and a wide variety of science, technology, and engineering and mathematics programs. The engaging, robust educational programs are geared towards families, teens, seniors, students, community groups and lifelong learners. For more information,




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