Strategic Communication Student Becomes Star of NASA Development Programs »Liberty News


Aariana Maynard

Aariana Maynard, a junior strategic communications student at Liberty University, has taken another step forward in her journey to launch a career at NASA after an internship with the space agency last summer.

The start of Maynard’s involvement with NASA began during her freshman year of high school when a science teacher encouraged her to apply to become a Virginia Aerospace Science and Technology (VASTS) scholar. VASTS is a one-semester program that immerses high school students in NASA-related research and also offers participants the opportunity to earn college credit for their work.

Maynard was then selected to attend the VASTS Summer Academy, an intensive week that allows participants to work at NASA during the week. Maynard was fortunate enough to meet Buzz Aldrin during this time and she was selected to give one of the closing speeches at the end.

Early in her senior year in high school, Aariana was selected to participate in the Virginia Earth System Science Scholars (VESSS), where she was part of a team tasked with examining the impact of global warming on the Earth’s hydrosphere. In 2018, Maynard was able to complete an internship with the Virginia Space Coast Scholars, where she helped mentor and guide high school students in various research projects related to communications and research. Maynard was encouraged by her supervisors to stay in touch with NASA, as they recognized that she possessed multiple qualities that the agency looks for in her employees.

“I had inspiring mentors who invested in my development as a researcher and helped me develop as a leader,” Maynard said. “They encouraged me to do an internship at NASA.”

After applying for several internships at NASA last summer, Maynard was accepted into the NASA Capacity Building Program located at the Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. Due to COVID-19, however, her internship was completed virtually. Throughout the summer, she worked from her home in Roanoke, Virginia, with five other interns to organize and edit NASA documents and conduct research on the United Nations sustainable research and development goals. With each team member assigned to a specific area, Maynard was the communications editor creating charts, videos, infographics, and press releases, while others covered stats, analytics, design. Web and search.

While at the Virginia Aerospace Science and Technology Scholars (VASTS) Summer Academy in high school, Aariana Maynard visited the Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. his internship took place virtually.

“Working with NASA’s capacity building program was a fantastic opportunity,” Maynard said. “The job of editing and creating graphics, press releases, infographics and videos was challenging, but also very intriguing, and I enjoyed it. I have had the opportunity to collaborate and network with team members from all over the United States. It was amazing how we were able to come together and create a final product to present in front of our mentors and supervisors.

Preparing for the internship, Maynard said her classes at Liberty showed her and her fellow students how to properly identify and reach their target markets and demographics, a skill that she says has come in handy. at NASA.

“The Freedom University Strategic Communication program, specifically STCO 289, prepared me for my internship at NASA by allowing me to practice and create videos and audio to engage a target audience. “

She said she chose Liberty’s strategic communications degree with a specialization in social media management because she loved social media and saw it as a great way to connect with people from all walks of life.

“I believe that majoring in Strategic Communications best matches my interests – outreach, publicity, engagement and public engagement – and it has enabled me to achieve my end goals of working in media and public relations,” said said Maynard.

Maynard said the internship helped her focus on teamwork and further develop her research and critical thinking skills by looking beyond the surface to problem-solve.

“I’ve learned that if you don’t know something, you have to do your research, and there’s nothing quite like asking too many questions,” Maynard said. “That’s what NASA wants; individuals who think deeply and ask relevant questions to help them develop a solution to a complex problem.

After graduating in May 2022, Maynard hopes to pursue a career in communications by working for NASA or another government agency.

“I’m so excited about this upcoming season as I prepare for my senior year this fall,” she said. “I look forward to seeing how the Lord will use the experiences He has allowed me to have to serve others in the years to come.”


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