Most people use the phrase “reach for the stars” as a metaphor, a way of saying to dream big, but in my case, I took it a bit too literally.
With a fascination with the night sky and a natural amplitude for mathematics, my passion for aerospace and astrophysics came almost naturally.
That’s not to say it came easy.
Over the years I’ve struggled with an endless number of physics concepts, almost failed my advanced mathematics class and lets not even get me started on programming.
However, all of these experiences were invaluable and connecting the dots backwards shaped a great part who I am. It lead me to becoming one of the youngest analog astronauts in the Analog Astronaut Training Center (AATC), a NASA intern and mentor and the co-founder of Chance.
Going back to the beginning, my STEM journey began in front of my computer screen when I decided to email a bunch of professors working in gravitational-wave astronomy after writing a paper on the topic in school.
After a few unsuccessful attempts I got a response from Northwestern University and after a short interview I got to be the research assistant at CIERA.
However, I decided to take this a step further and applied to the NASA STEM Enhancement in Earth Sciences (SEES) Internship where I spend my summer studying Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the prevention of mosquito carried diseases.
Despite often working at night due to the time differences and debugging code until 3AM, I enjoyed the experience so much I returned back to NASA in 2023 as a peer mentor.
As I got to reflect on all of these experiences, I could clearly see the undeniable impact they had on my life but also how rare they were. Looking around a small country like Slovakia, I realised not many other high school students got such an opportunities.
It was one email that got me a research position and yet almost everyone I talked to believed it was completely out of their reach to do anything even remotely similar.
After discussing the issue over and over again with a friend of mine, we decided to start and organisation known as Chance (www.chanceinternships.com) to bring STEM research opportunities not only to students in Slovakia but to high school students from all around the world.
A simple database with dozens of summer programs and internship across three continents, making it the go-to place for high school students interested in all fields of STEM.
Just with a few clicks you can find anything from a 2 months molecular biology internship to a week long theoretical physics summer program.
We’ve reached hundreds of visitors on our website, closed partnerships with different organisations however the goal is always to take it a step further.
Thus, our development team has spent day and night working on an application system making it easier than ever for students to apply for their dream opportunities.
After all the vision is to give everyone the same opportunity and that without having to spend hours mindlessly searching the internet.
We also organise events and virtual conferences, in addition to our blog where our writers share all the advice a high school student could ever need.
Was it a walk through a park? Not even close.
From endless arguments about the smallest features of the website, to figuring out the whole process of hiring the right people, the learning curve was huge. I was also forced to overcome the fear of public speaking and master the skills of marketing.
In other words, I got to learn hands-on what it takes to run a company and I still continue to do so every single day.
However it is absolutely worth it when we hear back from students who got to have a life changing experience at a summer school at Stanford or did an internship at Princeton; all through Chance.