My name is Savannah Jensen. I am a member of the Oglala Lakota Sioux tribe, and I live on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. I am currently a 17-year-old senior and attend Red Cloud Indian High School. I attended DoD STARBASE as a fourth grader at Red Cloud Elementary. My desire to attend DoD STARBASE begun as early as second grade when my older cousins came back to tell stories of their rockets and seeing a room full of stars. I made it a goal to attend DoD STARBASE in Kyle, South Dakota.
When I was a little girl I had always been fascinated with the stars especially because my Lakota people once traveled by the stars. Traditional star knowledge was my first aspect on science and my love for science was sealed by the opportunities given to me by DoD STARBASE. It introduced me to the magic and possibilities of science. I remember feeling like I was the smartest child because I was able to build my own rocket. I also remember two very smart energetic teachers who taught the technique and application of rockets. Such as, what is thrust or lift or how can one increase the thrust or lift when it’s time to build the rocket? This challenge of problem solving inspired me to make the best rocket. It was the most significant experience to be able to apply what I learned to an experiment.
Applying research to experiments is now a passion of mine. Carrying on what DoD STARBASE has introduced to me has taken me farther than I have ever imagined. In 2013, I designed and performed my own research experiment and attended the National American Indian Science and Engineering Fair in Albuquerque NM. Amazed, I placed first in Environmental Science, won the special award Best Traditional Project, and qualified for the Intel International Science Fair in Phoenix, AZ.
In the summer of 2013, I applied to the National Institutes of Health and earned a spot in the summer student internship in Bethesda, MD. I researched the compensating mechanism for nerve damage. I presented my research at the American Indian Science and Engineering National Conference and placed first. It was absolutely incredible.
Today, I believe DoD STARBASE was the catalyst for my love of science; it inspires and motivates youth. The opportunities and experience DoD STARBASE gives at such an early age is extremely valuable especially on the reservation. I dream of becoming a Biomedical Researcher or Physician. I want to help my tribe and contribute in a positive way like the program DoD STARBASE.
Pilamayaye (Thank you),