Rockford High School senior Tessa Maren Powers has big dreams for her future. She is the recent recipient of the Roger B. Chaffee Scholarship, a prestigious $2,500 award which will help defray college costs.
Powers plans to study biomedical engineering at Georgia Tech University, and wants to design innovative prosthetics for humans and animals. “I want to change the stigma that prosthesis just involves replacing limbs, when it really helps people forge their own identity,” she said.
The 17-year-old is the 47th Scholar in the Roger B. Chaffee Scholarship Fund’s history. The scholarship honors and commemorates the Grand Rapids astronaut who died tragically in a flash fire that took the lives of the Apollo I crew during a simulated launch. Apollo I would have been the United States’ first mission to the moon. Chaffee was a Navy aviator whose interest in flight began with the discovery of his favorite subjects, math and science.
Powers fits the bill to honor Chaffee’s legacy. “I have always been drawn to classes rooted in math and science,” she said. “Algebra 2 revealed that I wanted a career that involved math. My passion for math was really sparked.” Since freshman year, she’s taken classes like Honors Earth Science, Honors Chemistry, Honors Biology, AP Chemistry and AP Calculus.
Beyond her academic resume, Powers is heavily involved in community organizations such as Student Council, Interact, where she’s Treasurer, and Renaissance, a group that helps improve school atmosphere. Powers is also in wind ensemble, where she plays oboe, and participated on the crew team throughout high school.
Her plan to become a biomedical engineer stems from her various interests, she said. “I like how the field combines math and science with the creative and artistic side.”
Going forward, Powers has a lot on her plate. This summer, she’s travelling to Scotland through the Georgia Tech Leadership Scholarship, where she’ll be spending two weeks backpacking. And she said she isn’t nervous about starting college in the fall.
“I’m mostly excited to go to a new a state and start something new.”