Oakdale resident and Valley Charter School graduate Matthew Gery is spending some time this summer taking final steps toward his future as he attends orientation at Arizona State University.
A space and science enthusiast, Gery will attend ASU as an Aerospace Engineering major. In addition to joining the 75,000-plus attendees of ASU, Gery will be among the more than 5,000 attendees of Barrett, the Honors College at ASU.
Touted as the “Best Honors College” in the nation, the subsidiary college recruits academically outstanding undergraduates and has more National Merit Scholars than MIT, Duke, Brown, Stanford or the University of California at Berkeley.
“They have this course called the Human Event,” Gery said of the Barrett program, “which is a four year thing. Besides teaching you your major, they teach you to be a better member of the world.
“That’s a really big draw for me. They teach you more of a broad base,” he continued. “You still get done in four years and they encourage you to study abroad.”
Gery is most interested in the space program and rockets, but has an equal passion/interest in being multi-faceted and learning from a broad base, something he stated played an integral part in helping him decide between ASU (his father’s alma mater) and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
His interest in space, he shared, stretches back to early childhood. A visit to Kennedy Space Center in Florida made the idealism of it bit more real.
“When I was at Kennedy, they had the entire Saturn 5 rocket on display … stage by stage and it was incredible to see,” he said. “That’s the thing that took us to the moon and it was pretty awe inspiring to look at.
“We were able to send someone to another planet,” he continued. “That has changed our outlook on things and I want to be part of the team when we get them to Mars.”
The 18-year-old space enthusiast shared while he is unsure if the first to do this will be NASA or SpaceX he’s excited by the opportunity and developments as each tries to make this happen.
Earlier this year Gery was a participant in the Oakdale Chamber of Commerce job shadow program. Thanks to the efforts of the Chamber and local retired NASA engineer John Torres, Gery was able to visit NASA Ames in Mountain View.
“It was great fun,” Gery said of the day long visit. “I got to see all around the facility and all the different things. It was really eye opening to see what it’s actually like. They talked to me about the software they used for rendering and what they do to actually design models and test them in the wind tunnel. That was really inspiring. To be able to see all of that and know exactly what I’d be going into and needed to do.”
Now, looking forward, Gery shared he is excited about attending school for the specific field of his interest, studying what he has grown to love and is most passionate about.
“It’s going to be a completely new experience,” he said of his journey to ASU. “I mean as much as I’ve studied and done classes currently, it’s going to be a completely new method of doing that and I’m going to be all on my own in a new state.
“I’m excited about learning about what I’ve always wanted to learn about and actually going into the field. I know that’s a little way to get into the field but you have to work up to it. It’s really … it’s just really exciting to be moving into this,” he said.