Week 4: Astronauts, Nobel Prize Winners, and UN Ambassadors

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Monday, June 26, 2023


Jaden Sicotte

Last week I talked about mini-bosses. Let me tell you, I have never faced a mini-boss as steadfast as the one I began my week with for week 4. 

Monday was Juneteenth and in observance of the holiday, we had work off. The interns and I decided to have an Italian themed potluck. Like Icarus cloaked in his mighty wax and bronze wings, I set out for the market to get ingredients for my dish: gnocchi alla sorrentina. And like Icarus, I messed up real bad. After not boiling the potatoes long enough and forgetting that I had nothing to mash the semi-boiled potatoes with, I showed up an hour late to the potluck with a Frankenstein-esque potato creation sporting meh-levels of taste. Ego leveled, hands burned (from prematurely trying to peel freshly boiled potatoes), and pretty much the whole dish left over (wasn’t super popular) I learned a valuable lesson in hubris. I also learned that a potato dough is really hard to wash off and no you can’t just mash potatoes by squeezing them in your hands. 

Tuesday I had a few meetings about the National Mentoring Community’s transition from the Salesforce platform, to Xinspire, which was really interesting to get a glimpse at the technical behind the scenes side. After work I went for a quick bike ride and walked around the National Art Gallery for a bit.

Wednesday was the coolest day of the week, as my mentor, Bri Hart, gave me tickets to the White House sponsored Black Space Week event where I got to hear panel discussions from some really incredible people. To start off the talks were Dr. Mae Jemison, first African-American woman in space, and Linda Thomas-Greenfield, current US ambassador to the UN. They were phenomenal. Like seriously, I’m not eloquent enough to convey how incredible it was to hear them speak. Goosebumps the whole time. Following their portion of the panel, I got to hear from more than a dozen other people in several panels who work in various parts of the space industry, which to me personally was beyond cool, I was kind of just swimming in dorkdom all day. After work I tried out a cool live-band karoake spot which I'll definitely be returning to.

Thursday we got to meet Dr. John Mather, Nobel prize winner, and senior head scientist on JWST. He had a ton of great advice and I was honestly just psyched to meet someone so prominent in the field I hope to join. He encouraged all of us, reinvigorated our passion for our fields, and promised to be back for our end-of-internship presentations. 

Friday I got to see some friends from school who I haven’t seen in a little while which was great.

Saturday we had Astronomy on the Mall! I manned the telescope table for a few hours, where our big draw was mounds of candy. Watching kids come back 4, 5, 6 times for Smarties was so funny, but we used it as a trap to teach them how to use a telescope. Then I helped run the spandex gravity well demo. Never seen so many adults so happy to throw marbles around. 

Sunday (today) was a slow start, but I went thrifting in Virginia, and got this huge painting for my apartment next year. Got it for $5 too (at this point I’ve got a talent for getting dope things for cheap, two weekends in a row now). 

It’s been yet another great week (shoutout SPS), and I’m really excited to see what week 5 has in store for me. 

Jaden Sicotte