Samoan picked for competitive NASA program

A Samoan student has been selected for the highly competitive NASA information and computer science program.

Chester Leoso, a student at the Leeward Community College in Honolulu was accepted into the NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars program, from more than 5,000 applicants nationwide.

Only 147 were selected, with Leoso being the only student admitted from Hawaiʻi.

Oklahoma State University is hosting the NCAS program (being held virtually this year) and will provide scholars with the opportunity to network within NASA to potentially earn internships or related jobs.

“Knowing the net probability of being accepted was 10% was fulfilling once that acceptance email came through,” Leoso said. “It’s one of those feelings that leave you to wonder the limitations of your abilities and you begin building confidence in yourself and capabilities.”

His interest in NASA and space exploration grew from a newsletter he received from Academic Advisor Rien Vidad. It led to a hobby involving the combination of art and physics to create works of art. Leoso, also, credited Leeward CC Counselor Amy Amper with his achievements.

“Leeward has been my co-pilot on my road to success in my academic career, directing me where to turn and what to avoid,” Leoso said. “Leeward CC provides students more than simply education. It’s up to individual students to utilize and maximize what Leeward CC provides to its students, it will always be in your favor so long as you take the leap of faith.”

Leoso, who is on track to graduate in May, said he plans to further his computer sciences university education before eventually working in the field.