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UK Students to Inspire Future Astronauts at Space Camp Turkey

By Whitney Hale

(May 7, 2015) — Two University of Kentucky seniors have been chosen for internships with Space Camp Turkey. Emily Furnish, a chemistry and music performance major, and Damir Kocer, an economics and marketing major, will serve among a select group of Turkish and American counselors at the facility in Izmir, Turkey.

As one of three space and science education centers, Space Camp Turkey is focused on motivating young people from around the world in pursuing careers in science, math and technology. Through interactive, space-related simulations, both youth and adults learn about communication, teamwork and leadership in a dynamic, fun-filled environment.

The Space Camp Turkey counselor staff consists of college graduates and undergraduates who work with 9 to 15 year olds. Some are education majors while others are pursuing master's and doctoral degrees in astronomy or have certificates in education programs. All program staff receive training in space education, Space Camp Turkey activities, and safety for simulator operations. As counselors, Furnish and Kocer will receive roundtrip travel funds, accommodation and meals, and a weekly stipend.

Emily Furnish, the daughter of Anne Mary and Greg Furnish, of Louisville, Kentucky, is a 2011 graduate of duPont Manual High School. At UK, Furnish is a Chellgren Fellow, a Gaines Fellow and member of the Honors Program. The vocalist is also active in the UK School of Music where she has performed with the UK Women's Choir and UK Chorale. Furnish has also participated in undergraduate research studying laryngeal muscles, the specialized skeletal muscles used in voice production, under the direction of Maria Dietrich, in the College of Health Sciences.

Upon completion of her bachelor's degrees, Furnish plans to attend medical school.

Damir Kocer, the son of Ivanka Kocer, of Versailles, Kentucky, is a 2012 graduate of Woodford County High School. In addition to his studies in economics and marketing at UK, Kocer is also pursuing a minor in international business. He has also been active in undergraduate research at the university, where most of his research has centered on consumer behavioral patterns and what determines decision making, as well as how those effects translate across cultural boundaries. Kocer previously participated in education abroad studying at Grenoble School of Management. During his time at UK, he has worked with the Center for Community Outreach, Kentuckian, Kentucky Kernel and Student Activities Board.

Students interested in applying for the Space Camp Turkey internship in the future should contact Pat Whitlow, director of the UK Office of Nationally Competitive Awards, part of the Academy of Undergraduate Excellence within the Division of Undergraduate Education. The office assists current UK undergraduate and graduate students and recent alumni in applying for external scholarships and fellowships funded by sources (such as a nongovernment foundation or government agency) outside the university. These major awards honor exceptional students across the nation. Students who are interested in these opportunities are encouraged to begin work with Whitlow well in advance of the program deadline.