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Alumna reaching for stars through NASA academy

Working in outer space is a dream shared by many and realized by a very hard working and fortunate few. This summer, recent College of Idaho graduate Trisha Randazzo '12 is taking a big step toward achieving her ultimate goal.

Randazzo, a Salt Lake City native who in May received her bachelor’s degree in mathematics and physics, has been accepted into the prestigious NASA Ames Academy for Space Exploration in Moffett Field, Calif. She is one of 16 students from around the globe chosen for the immersive 10-week program, which begins June 17 and aims to provide opportunities for future leaders of the space industry.

“I’m really interested in understanding the universe and where we come from,” Randazzo said. “And I like the challenge and adventure of going to space and trying to explain the phenomena that happen that we don’t see or experience on our own planet.”

Randazzo has completed three NASA internships in the past two years – two at the Johnson Space Center in Houston and one at the Ames Research Center, which inspired her to apply for this summer’s academy. After a rigorous application process, Randazzo was selected from a pool of more than 1,200 applicants.

The Ames Academy pairs each student with a professional in a particular field for a research project that will demand 60 percent of the students’ time. The 16 students also will complete group and individual projects. Evenings and weekends are filled with lectures, team building activities, community service and travel, including a trip to NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C. Randazzo, whose core project focuses on space debris, referred to the program as “very hard and intense,” but said she is up for the challenge.

Randazzo also said she is grateful for the opportunities she had to develop her passions and interests at the C of I. In addition to her math and physics major, Randazzo earned a minor in German, competed for the freestyle ski team, served as student director of the Outdoor Program and cofounded the Space and Aeronautics Club. She plans to study planetary physics in graduate school.

“I was able to use my interests to a bigger potential as part of such a small community,” Randazzo said. “I’m really grateful that I had so many opportunities in leadership, athletics and volunteer work.”

Founded in 1891, The College of Idaho is the state’s oldest private liberal arts college. It has a century-old tradition of educating some of the most accomplished graduates in Idaho, including six Rhodes Scholars, three Marshall Scholars, and another 11 Truman and Goldwater Scholars. The College is located on a beautiful campus in Caldwell, Idaho. Its distinctive PEAK curriculum challenges students to attain competencies in the four knowledge peaks of the humanities, natural sciences, social sciences and a professional field, enabling them to graduate with an academic major and three minors in four years. For more information on The College of Idaho, visit