Leverenz receives 2020 “Brookie” fellowship
Courtney Leverenz is one of 40 recipients of the class of 2020 Brooke Owens Fellowship. As a “Brookie,” she will be paired with two senior or executive-level mentors and matched with one of the program’s host institutions for a paid summer internship. Leverenz will spend her summer at The Spaceship Company in Mojave, California. She said she is excited to contribute to the future of human spaceflight in her role at the company.
Leverenz is currently a senior, majoring in aerospace engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. During her years at U of I so far, Leverenz has been an active member of Illinois Space Society. She served in a variety of leadership positions, including serving on the executive board last year. She is also continuing to work as one of two student lab managers for the department—managing the equipment, lab space, and supplies. She goes above and beyond in this position by making herself available to assist other students with their class work and student organization projects. Besides being active on campus, Leverenz has completed a variety of internships at NASA, CU Aerospace, and Frasca International.
In a letter of support, the Department of Aerospace Engineering’s Academic Advisor and Coordinator of the Undergraduate Program Laura Gerhold said, “Courtney's passion is evident in each meeting I have with her to discuss the next steps for her academic future and new projects she would like to pursue. Her maturity and thoroughness in her work is impressive for someone her age and allows her to stand out among her peers.
“Not only is Courtney a driven student, but she is a compassionate human being. In spring 2019, Courtney worked to develop curriculum focused on introducing STEM through aerospace to adolescents with various abilities, particularly those on the autism spectrum.”
Her work on that project got noticed last year. She was selected to present her inclusive curriculum at the SciAccess science accessibility conference in the summer of 2019.
Leverenz is featured, along with the other 39 young women, on the Brooke Owens Fellowship website.
One component in the application for a Brooke Owens Fellowship is to create a multimedia essay. Leverenz produced a stop-action video in which she hopes to inspire others to find success in their own way. Watch her multimedia essay.
According to the Brooke Owens Fellowship website, women who are enrolled in a college, university, or community college may apply to be a part of the program and receive a paid summer internship. Although any major or concentration is acceptable, applicants who are pursuing a full-time career in the aviation or aerospace industry are more often selected. The program is designed to be an on-ramp into the industry for talented women, regardless of their background.
The Brooke Owens Fellowship Program was founded by Lori Garver, Cassie Kloberdanz Lee, and William Pomerantz to honor their friend who passed away in 2016 at age 35 from cancer. Owens was an alumna of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and the International Space University. Professionally, she worked at the NASA's Johnson Space Center, the non-profit XPRIZE Foundation, the Federal Aviation Administration’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation, and the White House Office of Management and Budget.