ATLANTA (Gwinnett Daily Post) — For Greater Atlanta Christian senior Ashley Gray, it’s not an exaggeration to say that this about her future — the sky’s the limit.
Gray, who graduates with her GAC classmates May 27, will enroll at San Diego State University in August to study aerospace engineering. She admitted it’s a bit daunting to contemplate moving across the country to go to school.
“We have at least 10 or 15 people from our graduating class going to Georgia, and it’s nice they know each other but they may not get the opportunity to branch out on their own and establish their own identity,” Gray said. “We’ve all grown up together, so everybody knows each other pretty well. But the fact that I get to go to a school where nobody knows me gives me a chance to really figure out who I am.
“I think this is definitely a very formative part of life, so it’s scary not knowing anyone, but it’s also cool to have that opportunity to establish myself.”
While there are dozens of colleges offering aerospace engineering degrees, Gray said San Diego State held a slight edge over the other schools she considered.
“When I was looking at colleges, I knew it would be a great opportunity to be able to go out of state and live somewhere different,” she said. “I really wanted the opportunity to go somewhere new and I’m also a weather-oriented person, and weather played an important role for me. It’s sunny practically every day in San Diego.
“I was also looking at campus size and I wanted to study aerospace engineering, which is a very limited major and the list of schools offering that is very short. San Diego State was one of them. So once I was able to narrow down location and major, San Diego State really started to stick out.”
Gray was drawn to aerospace engineering for the variety of occupations she can one day consider. The daughter of Lesley and Brian Gray of Norcross is a math and science enthusiast and in her short life has consumed a tremendous amount of information about life in outer space.
“I love all shows about space flight,” she said. “I was talking to my dad when I was younger and he was talking about the first moon landing and how back in the day that was fascinating to just about everybody. But now we’ve kind of progressed with technology and that might not be as interesting as it once was, but I’ve always been obsessed with it.
“I think I went through a phase where I read a bunch of books about space because I was so obsessed with the idea of the moon landing. I’ve always thought that was so cool.
Gray is already able to slightly slake her thirst for the skies by pursuing her private pilot’s license. She said her father got her connected last summer with a flight instructor he worked with at Peachtree-DeKalb Airport in Chamblee, and she hopes to make great progress in her aerial education this summer.
“This summer, after I get my private pilot license, hopefully I can get my VFR (visual flight rules) license so I have some weather minimums I have to reach before I can fly on my own,” Gray said. “But if I finish early in the summer, I can start working on my IFR license (instrument flight rules) so I can fly in less favorable weather using the instruments on the airplane.”
Gray would jump at the opportunity to work in the field of space travel, but said she’d be more interested in helping others get there than going herself.
“I think I would probably one of the people getting others into space,” she said. “I find space super-fascinating, but also terrifying, so while I would love to study it, I don’t think I need to go there myself.”
A student at GAC for the past seven years, Gray said that despite the prospects of living far away from family and friends and tackling a challenging major, she’s confident in what she can achieve because of her school. And she admits it’s not going to be easy leaving the nest.
“They’re very good with preparing (students) for college,” she said. “My college counselors and all my teachers have been amazing, and even with this weird, hybrid year, the school held chapels where they’ve talked about the future and what to expect and they’ve done a great job of preparing me.
“I’ll definitely miss it and that’s the one part that makes it bittersweet. But I can’t go back – I can only go forward. And I’m excited to move forward, but there will definitely be a little piece of me that’s always going to miss it.”
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