The NASA Armstrong Employee Exchange Council has presented the 2022 John W. Russell Memorial Scholarship to Katelyn Perez.
Perez is a 2022 graduate of Students on Academic Rise (SOAR) high school in Lancaster, Calif., and plans to major this fall in English at the University of California, Irvine. She earned a 4.57 grade point average and ranked 36th academically at her high school out of a class of 114 students.
The scholarship provides $2,000 per year for up to four years for attendance at a four-year college or university, provided the recipient maintains a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or higher. Applicants for the annual scholarship must be high school students with a parent working at NASA Armstrong.
Perez was surprised when she learned of her selection.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Perez said. “It’s the first scholarship I’ve won and I’m delighted!”
She is the daughter of Carlos and Annamarie Perez of Lancaster, California. Carlos Perez is the NASA Armstrong X-59 Senior Quality Assurance Specialist.
“It was great news for our family,” her father said.
Katelyn Perez wants to be an English teacher at a community college or university, sharing her love for literature and inspiring students. She credits her work ethic to her parents and her love of literature and enthusiasm for teaching to her mother, who is an English teacher at Antelope Valley College.
“My mom raised three kids and sometimes worked two jobs,” Perez said. “I was inspired. I had great teachers and my mother’s example of what I want to do. Any great teacher wants to inspire, and I want to be like them and do that.
Annamarie Perez is proud of her daughter, whom she taught in the second year of high school, and supports her career choice.
“Katelyn will help future generations move forward and succeed in college,” she said. “Education is the best tool to change the world because it opens doors and gives access to opportunities.”
To prepare for his future, Perez completed the Antelope Valley College honors program while attending high school. She excelled in advanced placement and honors classes, earned the California State Seal of Biliteracy, received the National Honor Society Medal, and graduated as a member of the California Scholarship Federation.
At SOAR, she served as vice president of the Christian Club and treasurer of the National Honors Society, the California Scholarship Federation, and the school’s journalism program. She published articles in the school’s monthly newspaper and was the main anchor for the school’s news programs, both called SOARce. Perez participated in student government, mentored new students, was a member of the Hispanic and LatinX Heritage Club, Key Club, tutor, and active in her church.
NASA Armstrong Exchange Council scholarships are named after five former Armstrong employees, with recipients selected on a rotational basis. Russell, who is named on the current fellowship, was Chuck Yeager’s original team leader on the X-1 program which achieved speeds in excess of Mach 1. Russell later flew as one of the operators of the panel when the X-15 rocket plane was launched. of NASA’s B-52 and reached the edge of space.
In addition to Russell, the other four are Thomas Finch, a center engineer specializing in stability and control; Joseph Vensel, former director of flight operations; Harold Walker, former head of the Aerodynamics Branch; and Joseph Walker, chief test pilot. Scholarships come from council activities.