Lindbergh high school students given award that’s out of this world

Published: Dec. 6, 2022 at 6:30 PM CST
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - Lindbergh High School student Mehtap Akcaoglu has a dream. She wants to work for NASA.

Akcaoglu is on track with her dream, taking courses in calculus, physics, mechanics, and biomedical science, to name a few.

A course load such as this takes perseverance. This is a quality Akcaoglu has grown in since her family immigrated from Turkey six years ago.

Akcaoglu said, “When I first came, I had no English.”

Learning English was one of the many challenges she has overcome since moving to the U.S.

Nora Lafata, a biology teacher at Lindbergh High School, said, “In her young life, she’s been through a lot of adversity, and not only has she persevered, but she has also excelled.”

Akcaoglu has earned the respect of her peers and instructors, becoming a mentor in the classroom.

When she learned of the NASA “You’ve Got Perseverance” Award, she had to apply. Biology teacher, Lafata, nominated Akcaoglu for the award.

Lafata said, “Of all the students that I have this year, she’s the one that’s demonstrated immense perseverance, which is the whole idea behind this award.”

The award is given to students who show perseverance in the classroom and who overcome immense challenges in their academic careers. NASA selected Akcaoglu as an award winner.

Akcaoglu said, “I was going through a rough patch recently. Where I’ve been challenging myself. This meant a lot. It brought me through that curve.”

The price for winning was a video call with the NASA Perseverance rover team, a special message from the team, and an award pack.

Akcaoglu said, “I couldn’t process the fact that I was speaking to these important people, but they were so nice.”

The rover team answered Akcaoglu’s questions and shared their own stories of perseverance and overcoming challenges.

Akcaoglu said, “They showed how important it is to persevere and how they have accomplished that.”

Life lessons she will never forget.