My East Coast College Tour: MIT, Harvard, Yale and more!


I was incredibly fortunate to go out east at the beginning of the school year to tour a few colleges. It started with me expressing interest in MIT and my mom saying “well if you are interested in MIT I guess we better make sure you have a chance to see the campus.” This is typical of how one of our adventures starts. I say I have an interest and my mom pops in with “well be better go do that, experience that or check that out.” If you have been following my journey these past few years you probably already know this from our past adventures including but not limited to: Attending the second to last shuttle launch in 2011, attending the tweetup at the Canadian Space Agency for the last shuttle launch in 2011, our trip to the 40th Anniversary Apollo 17 event in 2012, our trip to Russia to witness my mentor Luca Parmitano’s Soyuz launch to the International Space Station in 2013 or any other numerous things that I have been so fortunate to attend. These things typically start with a conversation and then my mom doing whatever she can to make them happen.

I think it’s important to mention I come from a single parent family and we are not wealthy. My mom has sacrificed a lot to give me these opportunities. She has always put my dreams first and tried to give me experiences that will continue to inspire me to reach for the stars. The college tour out east was a way for her to encourage me to reach high and believe in myself. I expected to see MIT and a few other schools and come home with more excitement about MIT and the possibilities. But this trip became so much more!

My mom of course decided if we were going to go out east I should see more than just MIT and with that a true Astronaut Abby adventure was born. This was no ordinary college tour. My mom arranged not only for me to see some of the most formidable schools in the world, but also to give me an experience of what my future may be like. She arranged for me to spend a day at Harvard in their Neursciences labs with neuroscience PhD candidate and my new mentor Mike Bukwich. How did she do this? Through a chance meeting my mom met Mike while traveling in Amsterdam. Through conversation my mom found out that Mike was a PhD candidate at Harvard working in the neuroscience labs. My mom told Mike about me and asked if he would meet with me for coffee when we visited Boston. Mike not only agreed but planned an entire day for me. Mike showing me his work, introducing me to his colleagues and gave me advice for my future. This was an incredibly gift and one I am very thankful for.

AA Harvard

Harvard PhD candidate Mike Bukwich showing me some of his lab research. Visiting Harvard and seeing many of their top research facilities was definitely a highlight of my trip!

My visit to Harvard, MIT, Yale and several other schools opened up the world to me. I had never thought of going to an Ivy League School, but the exposure showed me that indeed this was a possibility. I am now working on my applying to Harvard, Yale, MIT, Princeton, Williams and several other east coast schools as well as a few mid-west and west coast schools. It is exciting to not only apply, but to consider my steps after college when I move towards my own goals of being a scientist and someday an astronaut. Thank you to Mike for spending the time to mentor me and advise me as I move ahead, thank you to Mike’s colleagues who also spent time with me and advised me and to the wonderful hospitality I encountered at all the schools I toured while visiting the Boston area. And a big thank you to my mom for making this trip a possibility and always investing in my dreams. Also I want to thank a supporter of mine Richard, who I met during my Soyuz Adventure and has been an ongoing supporter of helping me pursue my dreams.


AA Yale

We initially were planning on staying in the Boston area for the college tour (believe me there are plenty of schools in Boston to view) but my mom decided that we were too close to Yale University not to take a road trip. I am so happy we did! Yale is an incredible school and is now one of my top choices. Had we not visited I may not have seen first hand how this school remains number one around the world.



  1. Kathy Sandvoss says

    Hi Abby,

    Can you tell us how you broke up your trip? My son is mot interested in MIT, but wants to looks at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton.

  2. Brandon Hitchcock says

    So, where did you end up attending Astronaut Abby? We can all be blessed by a single parent family at times! My mother has helped me when I was younger to attend a two of the last shuttle launches (with one that was scrubbed from an earlier date, so 3 total visits). I have seen Cal Tech and Stanford and am planning to go back to the east coast this summer. We, too, were fortunate to meet a Nasa engineer on a plane flight that helped us get invited to the VIP launch site for one. It certainly is sad that this is too a thing of the past.

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