La Verne Student’s Career Ready for Blast-Off!

November 9, 2010
Share this story:
Craig Stremel

Craig Stremel

Craig Stremel says that he doesn’t have a very scholarly past.  However, this is hard to believe when looking at his recent academic successes.


“School, specifically the subject of math, has always been the most difficult part of my life,” the 22-year-old La Verne resident said. “I have chosen to take the things that are most challenging to me and make them better.”


Stremel has done more than just improve his academic performance – he has excelled. In fact, the applied mathematics major was selected to travel to NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama to participate in a three-day on-site event known as the National Community College Aerospace Scholars program from November 3 through November 5.


“I believe 275 people nationwide applied for the program and only 175 were asked to complete four bi-weekly assignments which included a timeline, project budget, and drawing of a rover you would create for a robotics mission to Mars,” Stremel said. “Out of the 175 people who completed the assignments, only 89 were selected to take part in the on-site portion of the program.”


Stremel learned about this unique opportunity through his participation in the Citrus College STEM program. STEM Citrus Connect! is a federal College Cost Reduction and Access Act (CCRAA) grant-funded program designed to increase the number of students who major in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. 


“My awesome trigonometry professor, Lucia Riderer, placed my name on the STEM mailing list and I was sent an e-mail encouraging me to apply,” Stremel said. “I was hesitant because I never thought I would get accepted. Then I realized the worst NASA could say would be no.”


Despite his initial misgivings, Stremel committed himself to the application process.


“I tried my hardest and followed the rules. Every time I received an e-mail from NASA, I thought it was the coolest thing ever,” he said. “My success shows that students can accomplish great things when they apply themselves.”


While at Marshall Space Flight Center, Stremel had the opportunity to interact with other students from across the nation as he learned more about careers in science and engineering. The participants formed teams and established fictional companies interested in Mars exploration. Each company was responsible for developing a prototype rover, designing a line drawing of the rover, and forming the company infrastructure including budget, communications, and presentations.


The on-site experience also included a tour of the facilities and briefings by noted NASA employees.


“This opportunity allowed me to utilize all of the tools I attained in school and do something challenging and fun,” Stremel said. “Hopefully, my future career will also have this balance.”


Stremel plans to graduate from Citrus College in June 2011 and eventually would like to become a research professor. His goal is to help transform the K-12 education system. Completing the NASA program will most likely prove beneficial as he continues on his academic and professional journey.


“As an alumnus of the aerospace program, I now have a certificate of completion which may provide me with a foot in the door to later be hired by NASA,” he said. “I feel my dreams are coming true and things that I never thought possible are now coming to fruition.”


According to Dr. Geraldine M. Perri, superintendent/president of Citrus College, Stremel’s future looks bright.


“Craig’s high standards and commitment to excellence are an indication of the success he will experience as he completes his education and establishes his career,” she said. “By qualifying for and completing this impressive program, he has already demonstrated that he has acquired skills at Citrus College that will serve him well as he becomes a leader of tomorrow.”


Dr. Gary Woods, president of the Citrus Community College District, agrees.


“Craig has established himself as one of the top community college students in the nation,” he said. “Citrus College is extremely proud of his accomplishments and looks forward to watching his future unfold.”

Leave a Reply