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Abigail Frank honors Purdue University by winning the Goddard Keynote Scholarship

Abigail Frank, a sophomore in Purdue's School of Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering and the John Martinson Honors College, recently earned the highly coveted Goddard Keynote Scholarship. Out of thousands of exceptional applicants from universities across the country, Frank was selected as the sole winner, earning her a substantial scholarship and the opportunity to deliver the keynote speech at the prestigious 67th Annual Dr. Robert H. Goddard Memorial Dinner.

Frank initially received an email about being one of many finalists for the award, and she felt immense pride to be in the running. 

“I was jumping up and down in the middle of the road with excitement,” she shared. Weeks later, a phone call confirmed her as the winner, leaving her both thrilled and nervous about speaking in front of 2,000 elite government officials and industry executives.

Frank credited her authenticity and passion for setting her apart from other candidates. Those factors aligned with the values of the National Space Club.

"I was true to who I am and what I care about," she said. "I explained everything and showed emotion and imagery rather than just quoting things to impress them."

At the dinner, Frank delivered a captivating keynote speech, sharing her inspirational personal journey and fascination with aviation sparked by her sister.

“When my sister was young, she would dress up as a pilot before every flight we went on,” she shared, noting that this was the point at which she became interested in the field. She also reflected on a rocket launch project she worked on that failed, which taught her valuable lessons about teamwork and perseverance.

Frank's involvement in the Purdue Space Program provided hands-on learning and leadership opportunities, building her skills and self-confidence. "Having confidence in myself was really important, and being supported like that at Purdue by my mentors and my team has made me believe in myself and develop my leadership," she said.

Throughout this journey, one of her most supportive mentors was Danilo de Camargo Branco, visiting assistant professor of aerospace engineering.

“Abby's dedication to her academic and professional development is fascinating,” he said. “Her behavior when working in a team environment encouraging every team member to engage in activities and succeed while maintaining a friendly work environment is indicative of her success.”

Looking ahead, Frank sees incredible opportunities to pursue her passion for space exploration and public speaking.

"I actually really like public speaking now," she said. "Through this, I'm really grateful to have a great network of people who want to be there for me as I start my career."

Frank stresses the importance of self-belief and resilience in the face of setbacks. "Remember that you have something unique and valuable to offer and bring to the table," she said. "And failure is okay. That rocket launch failure was hugely disappointing but even though the rocket came apart, my team came together."

With her youth, passion, and an extraordinarily bright future ahead, Frank is well on her way to making her mark on the space industry. Her Goddard Keynote Scholarship and achievements so far are just the beginning of many milestones to come.

Last updated: April 30, 2024

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Anaaya Shah

Communication Assistant for Teaching and Learning,