Going Far: Alumna Tina Beck shoots for the stars through NASA internship

Monday, August 10, 2020
Written by: Emily Hollingshead

Talking to Christina ‘Tina’ Beck, her enthusiasm radiates off her alongside a contagious energy. “Our world is so fascinating and so beautiful, and the crazy part is most of these things can be connected through mathematics,” said Beck. As a lifelong Central Florida resident, she grew up watching shuttle launches with her dad and falling in love with everything space related.

However, her sights were not always aimed so high. As a non-traditional student, Beck had to keep her focus on work before she could make college a reality. Even when she began her college career, she kept her focus on areas where there was a clear-cut job at the end. “While the love of space has always been there, it wasn’t feasible. To be a scholar seemed expensive,” said Beck. Unfortunately, after losing her father to cancer, she re-evaluated how she was approaching her journey. “We only get to live life this one time,” she said. “And I always wanted to be an astrophysicist.” So, she set about doing the research to figure out exactly what steps to take to make her dream a tangible goal.

The JWST is to be Hubble’s successor and help to unlock some of the mysteries about what happened between the Big Bang and the formation of the universe as we know it.

Tina Beck.

While working for Seminole State College of Florida’s libraries, she completed the College’s STEM Certificate Program as well as associate degrees in both computer programming and physics. On a whim, she applied for an internship with NASA. While she did not have the club or volunteer background other applicants may have had due to her need to work, Beck was sure to highlight her passion for space as well as the experience she had obtained working different jobs to put herself through school. She was accepted and interned as a part of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) Program. “The JWST is to be Hubble’s successor and help to unlock some of the mysteries about what happened between the Big Bang and the formation of the universe as we know it,” said Beck. “I’m part of the Science Mission Directorate, and our task is to identify the current State of Art for completing investigations on the four main science objectives of the JWST.”

She is continuing on to the University of Central Florida in the fall to pursue her passion for astrophysics and is one of 15 people accepted into the STRONG scholarship program that nurtures transfer students in STEM fields. For fellow non-traditional students Beck encourages them to express their interests and to persevere. “It is ok to be a non-traditional student. Just because we don’t fit that pretty mold, that doesn’t mean you don’t deserve to be there,” she said. “You are on no one else’s timetable but your own.”

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