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District Five alum recognized as “Emerging Aerospace Leader” in national publication

IRMO, SC - Dutch Fork High School alum Emily Zimovan always had a passion for math and science. Little did she know during her early high school years, it would carry her into a future career in aviation and aerospace. In February, Zimovan was named to Aviation Week’s “Twenty Outstanding Students Emerging As Aerospace Leaders.”

“I am so honored to be recognized among some of the best students in the world,” said Zimovan, who will complete her master’s degree in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering in May from Purdue University. “I am extremely thankful for all of the people in my life, including my teachers, who have always encouraged me to push myself and to never be afraid to ask questions. Without them, I wouldn’t be as successful as I am today.”

Zimovan earned her Bachelors of Science from Purdue and accumulated a perfect grade point average in the process. She interned at NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, where she worked in guidance, navigation and control autonomous flight systems and optical navigation. That opportunity opened another door as she was recently accepted into the Johnson Space Center’s Pathways program, where she will be a full-time employee at NASA while still in school.

During her days at Dutch Fork High, Zimovan says she was encouraged to try some of the introductory engineering classes. “I knew when I took those courses, engineering was something I was interested in pursuing,” Zimovan said. “However, when my dad took me to see the launch of the Space Shuttle Discovery in Florida, I knew without a doubt that I absolutely had to be a part of the people who made space flight possible—astronautical engineers. Seeing the launch of humans into space was an incredibly inspiring, life-defining experience for me.”

Dutch Fork High engineering design teacher Tom Brower remembers Zimovan fondly. “Emily’s cheerful personality and inquisitive mind made her such a delight to teach,” Brower said. “Her passion for engineering was definitely ignited at Dutch Fork High School and I am very happy for her success and have no doubt we will hear more about this exemplary young woman in the future!”

As she finishes up her master’s, Zimovan will have the opportunity to stay connected with some of the best and brightest people in the aerospace industry in the Pathways program. Her research will be relevant to problems in aerospace engineering that are important today.

Zimovan credits her early opportunities in District Five as an advantage when she arrived on campus at Purdue. “Students in District Five are so lucky they have access to such a good education system that prepares them for the next level,” Zimovan said. “The fact we had such a wide array of AP classes offered was something I didn’t appreciate until I was in college—so many other students in the country don’t have those kinds of opportunities. It allowed me to start ahead of the game!”

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