(Orange, CA) - Santiago Canyon College (SCC) physics major Leah Hart-Jacobs will travel to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory Center this month to participate in the NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars project (NCAS). Hart-Jacobs, a 25-year-old Orange resident, has been selected as one of 304 community college students from across the U.S. to be part of NCAS this year.
The program includes participating in a five-week online course, which Hart-Jacobs completed over the summer, and a four-day on-site event at Jet Propulsion Laboratory offering students the opportunity to interact with NASA engineers and others as they learn more about careers in science and engineering.
Hart-Jacobs has been in love with space and learning everything about how it works since she was a child. Because of this fascination she is drawn to studying astrophysics. Now, in her third year at SCC, she is working on two associate degrees in physics and in math. Many of her courses are taken as part of the SCC Honors Program. After graduating, she hopes to transfer to UCLA to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees in astrophysics. From there, she hopes to eventually work for NASA as a physicist.
While at NASA, students form teams and establish fictional companies interested in Mars exploration. Each team is responsible for developing and testing a prototype rover, forming a company infrastructure, managing a budget, and developing communications and outreach.
When thinking ahead to her participation in NCAS and her career in astrophysics, Hart-Jacobs spoke of how important math is in the science of space. She recalled how overwhelmed she was with pre-calculus. She remembered going to her professor’s office at SCC and said she was very grateful for how patient her instructor was with her.
“We worked together and she taught me pre-calculus,” said Hart-Jacobs. “It boosted my confidence and helped me see that I could do it. When I was working on my final project for the online portion of the NASA program, it involved a lot of math and writing. All of my SCC classes came together and I was able to put my knowledge out into the world. It felt great!”
NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars is a project funded in part by the Minority University Research and Education Program (MUREP), which is committed to engaging underrepresented and underserved students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in authentic learning experiences to sustain a diverse workforce.
With this activity, NASA continues the agency’s tradition of engaging the nation in NASA’s mission.
"NCAS not only inspires community college students to advance in STEM fields, but it also opens doors for future careers at NASA. NCAS has a legacy of alumni moving from NASA internships to and ultimately entering the NASA workforce. It is rewarding to see the progression of a student from NCAS participant to NASA colleague," said Joeletta Patrick, Minority University Research and Education Project (MUREP) manager.
For more information, contact National Community College Aerospace Scholars at JSC-NCAS@mail.nasa.gov or (281) 483-0493. For more information on the program, visit http://ncas.aerospacescholars.org/. For more information on Minority University Research and Education Program, visit
About Santiago Canyon College
Santiago Canyon College (SCC) serves more than 17,000 credit and noncredit students each semester. In 2017, SCC was ranked #13 among the 50 Best Community Colleges in the U.S. by College Choice, a leading authority in college and university rankings and resources. The college prepares students for transfer to four-year institutions and careers, and provides courses for personal and professional development, as well as customized training for business and industry. The college is recognized for its adult education program which keeps the working adult - and senior - in mind by offering flexible schedules, and community locations. Serving the residents of Anaheim Hills, Orange, Tustin, and Villa Park, SCC is one of two comprehensive colleges under the auspices of the Rancho Santiago Community College District.
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Phone: (714) 480-7503