Kate Carroll is living the dream.
Yes, it takes two hours to get from home to her desk, a trip that includes driving to a Washington D.C. Metro station and a rush hour train ride, not to mention reversing the trek each night. But it's the destination that counts for Carroll: when she punches in for work, it's at the National Air and Space Museum, the Mecca for space and aviation enthusiasts.
Dover born and bred, Carroll, 35, is spending a 10-week internship at the NASM while pursuing her bachelor's degree with the University of Maryland, where she's majoring in history and working on a minor in astronomy.
The job is a perfect fit for Carroll as it allows her to combine her love of history, her researching and writing skills – she was a news aide and staff reporter for the Dover Post – and her passion for all things space-related, which she recently fulfilled as a contractor at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, updating content for their education/public outreach web page.
"It's as if I'm on vacation every day," she said.
Now living in Pasadena, Md., with husband Dan Carroll and their cats, Carroll still travels to Dover weekly to see family and friends.
Q You've been gone for nine years. Do you still consider yourself a Delawarean?
A. Yes! My parents still live in the house I was brought to as a baby. Moving back is something I daydream about, because I would be close to my family and friends again. However, being near the cities will make it more convenient to get a job at a world-class museum, so it's a trade off.
Q Mixing history and astronomy is rather unusual. Why the combination?
A History is about remembering where we came from. Astronomy is about the same thing. It's all about looking into the past. One of the first things I tell people is that when they're looking at a star, the light they're seeing left years, maybe eons ago. Nothing you're looking at is current. It takes a while to wrap your head around that.
Q What are your responsibilities as an intern?
A My curator keeps me busy doing a little bit of everything. I was researching the cancellation of the Advanced Orbiting Solar Observatory, a solar satellite back in the 1960s, then I was working on gathering images for a new book about the Hubble Space Telescope.
Q What's your current project?
A My job for the next week or so is to research Phoebe Waterman Haas. I'm going through her old letters and transcribing things. She received a doctorate in astronomy from the University of California, Berkeley in 1913, one of the first women to do that. Women had degrees in astronomy and physics, but it was the graduate degrees, especially the doctorate, that were so hard-won at the time.
Page 2 of 2 - Q You sound like the proverbial kid in a candy shop.
A I am, I really am. My curator has asked me what am I getting out of this internship. I told him I never want to leave. I said you'll have to drag me out of here, kicking and screaming.