Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Sky’s not the limit for Canterbury student

A University of Canterbury student will be rocketing into the American aerospace industry this year after winning a prestigious Brooke Owens Fellowship – the only New Zealander and first person from the Southern Hemisphere to become a fellow.

Jennifer Berry (pictured) is due to begin her fourth year studying engineering at the University of Canterbury. She is one of 51 mostly American undergraduate students earning their places at leading aerospace organisations in the Brooke Owens Fellowship class of 2022.

Part of the mentoring fellowship is to intern at an aerospace organisation and Berry will work at Space Capital, in New York City, later this year. Space Capital is an early-stage venture capital firm that invests exclusively in space-based technologies.

The Brooke Owens Fellowship – a non-profit US program recognising exceptional undergraduate women and other gender minorities with space and aviation internships, senior mentorship, and a lifelong professional network – announced its newest, most diverse class of Brooke Owens Fellows on Friday.

Berry says it felt “unreal and slightly overwhelming” to discover she would be the first person from Australasia to join the American aerospace fellowship. During her second year at the University of Canterbury, she interned at Rocket Lab’s New Zealand headquarters, sparking her interest in applying for the Brooke Owens fellowship.

“I feel extremely blessed to be able to call myself a ‘Brookie’ alongside incredible women and gender minorities committed to driving two shared missions – to expand our reach into the universe and to disrupt the historical gender imbalance in the aerospace industry. Both these missions go hand-in-hand,” says Berry, who moved from Auckland to Christchurch to study towards her Mechanical Engineering Bachelor of Engineering with Honours degree at the University of Canterbury,” she said.

“It is a huge privilege to be in a position to uplift and support other young women and gender minorities in this part of the world with their future applications and in their journeys in the aerospace sector.”

The Brooke Owens Fellows will each be matched to an executive-level mentor in the aerospace industry who will support and work with the Fellows to help launch their careers. Later this year, the Fellows will start their internships and come together for the annual Brooke Owens Summit in Washington, DC. The Class of 2022 will also become part of the network of 198 Brookie alumnae spanning all aspects of space and aviation including engineering, scientific research, policy, journalism, and entrepreneurship.

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