30 Aug 2013
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Students encouraged to shoot for stars

By Rebecca Wood

Some people say go hard or go home! But Mana Vautier says shoot for the stars and if you miss you might just hit the moon.

Vautier is an engineer for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), working at the Johnson Space Centre in Houston and is following his life-long dream to be an astronaut.

He has agreed to connect via Skype with some of west Auckland’s schools including Fruitvale Primary in Glen Eden, Nga Kakano o te Kaihanga Kura in Te Atatu and Waipareira Trust’s alternative education unit, Amokura.

As well as sharing his own journey and aspirational vision with the students, he will also encourage them to reach for and rise to their potential.

Vautier’s connection with local kura is an opportunity to highlight Waipareira’s Digi service, the Trust’s latest initiative, which aims to connect every child with digital media allowing children to dream big.

Ever since Vautier was a small kid, he had a passion for space, and the idea of one day flying in space fascinated him.

“I had absolutely no idea at all how that might be possible, but it is a dream that I hung on to, and as life progressed, I gradually learned more about possible paths that might lead me there,” he says.

Vautier was born in Auckland, raised in Hong Kong and the United States and was educated at Auburn University in Alabama.

While studying at Auburn, he was offered the opportunity to apply as an intern at NASA and was successful, working his entire summer next to some of the greatest engineers in the world.

When the father of three graduated the following year, he was offered a full time position at NASA and continues to hold fast to his unwavering dream to become an astronaut.

“It is most likely still quite a long way off. NASA is currently accepting applications for their next intake of astronauts. The selection process is extremely competitive, and many current astronauts applied multiple times before they were eventually selected. As of today, there are just under 3,000 people who have submitted applications, and NASA expects to hire between 8 to 12 recruits, so here's hoping.”

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