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Katelyn is an Astrophysics student at CalTech, looking to pursue teaching in order to inspire the next generation of STEM students.

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"Be curious, and strive to find answers to the questions that pop into your head, whether it’s through a Google search or through reading a book."

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Katelyn Sulett
Class of 2020



My career roadmap has been all over the place.

Ever since I was in elementary school, I knew that my career path would involve something in STEM, as I loved science and mathematics.

In middle school, I found my first scientific love: biology. I knew that I didn’t want to pursue medicine, but I enjoyed biology as a subject.

Going into high school, I found an interest in space studies, and decided that I wanted to pursue a career in either aerospace/astronautical engineering or astrophysics.

In the summer after eleventh grade, I was a part of a research program at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering where I got to assist a Ph.D. student with his aerospace/electrical engineering research, where I worked on battery testing for the viability of electric aircraft.

After the research program, I found that I wasn’t as interested in engineering as I thought, and changed my career plan to focus on astrophysics, especially research.

Through the peer tutoring program at AOC and the volunteer work I have completed, I found a passion for teaching, and know that I want to work as a professor in the future.

Though I feel confident about my decision to pursue astrophysics, I am exploring the idea of pursuing quantum physics with research emphases in astrophysics and biophysics (in a field known as quantum brain theory).



Here are my extracurriculars relevant to this pathway


  • Summer High School Intensive in Next Generation Engineering (SHINE) at USC Viterbi, where I researched battery-powered aircraft in Professor Alejandra Uranga’s Aerodynamic Design Research Lab under Ph.D. student Saakar Byahut. (Summer 2019)

  • Volunteering in both a sixth-grade classroom at Golden Oak Elementary and as a mentor for a FIRST LEGO League Robotics Team at La Mesa Junior High. Both of these schools are my alma maters. (2018-2020)

  • Project 691 Robotics Team (FIRST Robotics Competition) (2018-2020)

  • Self-taught studies: EdX classes in astrophysics and computer science, in addition to Citizen Science research for space studies. This is especially poignant and important to pursue with the pandemic (2017-2020).

  • *Note: most of my ECs were engineering focused, but this helped me to determine that as much as I loved space, I would rather focus on the physics and the structures than the engineering of resources to explore space. (As a JPL scientist once put it, aerospace engineering carries out the exploration that astrophysicists research and propose).


  • Currently waiting to step foot on campus!


What I'm currently doing/hope to do

In the future, I hope to either be a professor and researcher in astrophysics or a scientific communicator (think Bill Nye, Carl Sagan, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, and beyond). Regardless of which option I choose, I will be attending graduate school to pursue a Ph.D. in Astrophysics or Quantum Physics.


How to maximize my time in high school?

  • Advice #1: Have a passion for what you’re doing.

  • Advice #2: Pursue research opportunities in high school.

  • Advice #3: Strive to understand the theories behind what’s happening in your science and math classes.

  • Advice #4: Be curious, and strive to find answers to the questions that pop into your head, whether it’s through a Google search or through reading a book.

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