TCOM student earns once-in-a-lifetime chance to earn Masters of Space Studies

by Steven BartolottaSecond-year TCOM student Summer Beckworth

Summer Beckworth dreams of practicing osteopathic medicine among the stars.  

The second-year Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine soon will embark on an exclusive one-year program to earn a Masters of Space Studies (MSS) at the International Space University (ISU) in Strasbourg, France. The yearlong program runs from September 2021 through May of 2022 and supports students who want to advance their careers in space, space agencies and research.  

MSS is an amazing opportunity for anyone wanting to establish themselves within the aerospace field because it builds connections with international peers and leaders at NASA, ESA, and other space sectors,” Beckworth said. “I have always loved learning about astronomy and cosmology.” 

Her interest in the program was sparked on October 18, 2019 when NASA astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch conducted the first allfemale spacewalk. Meir is an alum of the ISU program.  

I have been following aerospace news for years and was so pumped to see women represented on the front page in space innovations,” Beckworth said. “Jessica (Meir), one of the two women conducting the walk, spoke very highly of the benefits the MSS program had to offer. Upon further research, the program sounded like a great fit for my current education.”  

The program blends people from across the globe and a variety of fields, with many coming from engineering, business and other backgrounds. Beckworth will be one of just a handful coming from the medical profession.  

Beckworth has always had an adventurous side. A regular visitor to the Fort Worth Science and Natural History Museum as a child, her mother would have to practically drag her out at closing time. She is a stargazer as well, driving in 2017 to Wyoming to see the “Great American Eclipse” in its totality.  

Dreams aside, Beckworth understands the program’s practical benefits. She plans to take a couple of aerospace rotations when she returns to TCOM in 2022 and apply for one of only five American Aerospace Medicine fellowship programs.  

There is so much of the aerospace field that I haven’t explored just yet, so I am hopeful to find areas of space I am really passionate about and put that towards my career as a future physician,” she said. “There are some electives that focus on astrobiology and human space travel from a physiological stand point, so I am excited to take those. There are also a number of team and individual research projects and trips to space agencies around Europe. 

On earth or in outer space, Beckham is enthusiastic about her future.  

In a perfect world, I would love to become an astronaut and go on a future mission to the moon or even Mars,” said Beckworth. “But for now, I would be absolutely honored to be a physician for an astronaut team and learn about how space travel affects the human body and psyche.”

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