The NASA Dryden Employee Exchange Council has presented its 2012 John K. Russell Memorial Scholarship Award to Rachel Thomson.
A graduate of the class of 2012 at Desert High School on Edwards Air Force Base, Thomson plans to major in kinesiology with an emphasis in pre-athletic training at California State University – Long Beach this fall. Along with her twin sister Katherine, Rachel was a co-valedictorian of her high school class, both having earned a 4.3 grade-point average during their high school years. Rachel was ranked third academically out of 103 students in Desert High’s class of 2012.
The scholarship provides $2,000 per year for up to four years for attendance at a four-year college or university, or $1,000 per year for up to two years for attendance at a two-year community college, providing the recipient maintains a minimum grade-point average of 3.0 or higher. Applicants for the annual scholarship are required to be high school seniors whose parents are among the Dryden civil service or contractor workforce.
Rachel Thomson is the daughter of Michael and Jennifer Thomson of Lancaster, Calif. Thomson, a career aerospace and flight test engineer and manager at NASA Dryden, currently heads the Science Mission Directorate at the Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility in Palmdale, Calif.
In addition to excelling in advanced placement and honors classes during her high school career, Rachel was heavily involved in numerous school and community activities, including Desert High’s Associated Student Body where she served as president her senior year and junior class president in 2011. She also participated in the California State and Kern County science fairs her junior and senior years, acted in several school drama productions, is a member of the National Honors Society and the California Scholarship Federation and was a member of the Seekers Bible Club.
Rachel also found time for athletic involvement, participating in or managing Desert High’s volleyball, football and wrestling teams and running on the school’s girls varsity track team, where she was named the team’s most valuable player for two years.
Rachel’s sister Katherine, who was second only to Rachel in the scholarship selection committee’s rankings, will also be attending Cal State – Long Beach, where she plans to major in nursing. The sisters said they are close and share many of the same activities and interests, and even plan to room together.
“We are ready to leave home, but not each other,” said Rachel.
“They’ve both worked so hard. It will be nice that they are going together,” added her mom.
“It’s exciting,” agreed Mike Thomson. “I’m very proud of both of them, they knew only one scholarship would be awarded, and yet they both put the effort into applying for it.”
NASA Dryden Exchange Council scholarships are named for former employees of NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center, with honorees selected on a rotating basis. Scholarship funds are raised from various council activities, including proceeds from vending machine, Dryden Gift Shop and cafeteria sales and various fundraising events.