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Love of space turns into selection as national student ambassador for LSHS junior

It all started with a Star Wars cartoon. That’s all it took for a then five-year-old Kashan Hussain to fall in love with space. That galaxy far far away ignited Hussain’s affection for all things space and science fiction. Today, 11 years later, he is one of 25 national Back to Space student ambassadors.

Back to Space’s main mission is to make Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) a focus in pop culture. That’s where the student ambassadors come in. Hussain recently returned from an all expenses paid trip of a lifetime to Dallas, TX, where he collaborated with fellow ambassadors, met astronauts and had the opportunity to speak to high school and college students about STEM. He was selected as an ambassador after completing an online application and creating a video explaining why he wants to go to space.

Hussain thanks his former Cavelero Mid High School computer applications teacher Karen Coulombe for encouraging him to apply to the program. Coulombe also recruited Hussain to the Seafair organization—he’s a student ambassador and she’s a board member.

“Kashan was a student of mine for two years and a member Lake Robotics since eighth-grade.” said Coulombe. “I have watched him hear about opportunities and step forward—from serving as a Senate Page in Olympia as a freshman to embracing his role as a Seafair Ambassador this year. Kashan listens and, most importantly, acts when possibilities are presented. He takes risks and is confident in new and unfamiliar situations. Kashan's curiosity and insatiable drive for learning characterizes him as a perfect Back to Space Ambassador. We can all proudly watch as he represents Lake Stevens schools and the greater community.”

The Back to Space Student Ambassador Competition was open to U.S. citizens enrolled in grades eight through 12, and included students from schools across the country. Hussain’s video entry was selected from more than 500 applicants, and he was invited for a phone interview. From there, 50 applicants were narrowed down to the 25 ambassadors.

“The application process was intense and moved very quickly,” said Hussain, a 16-year-old junior at Lake Stevens High School. “In fact, I didn’t even tell my parents about it until I found out I had been selected as an ambassador. It was an amazing experience.”

While in Dallas, Hussain met Apollo astronauts Walt Cunningham, Apollo 7; Al Worden, Apollo 15; Charlie Duke, Apollo 16 and Buzz Aldrin, Apollo 11. He met Chicken Soup for the Soul author Mark Victor Hansen and James Keyes, former chief executive of 7/11 and CEO of Blockbuster. Hussain also participated in a special gala where he and the other student ambassadors were formally welcomed and introduced. The student ambassadors have been invited back to participate in the TV program that Back To Space is developing that includes a dream-team of Hollywood producers who have won and been nominated for more than 13 Primetime Emmys.

Hussain arrived home from his adventure just in time to slip on a suit and attend the high school’s Homecoming Dance with his friends.

“The trip was exhausting, but wonderful,” said Hussain. “I was able to learn so much and to make so many important connections for my future.”

Hussain’s future looks very bright. While he had always planned on attending the University of Washington, his Back to Space experience bolstered his confidence and he’s now planning to also apply to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and several Ivy League universities. In college he plans to study engineering, but hasn’t yet made a decision between electronic, mechanical or computer. He does know that whichever path he takes will lead him to a future in robotics.

In addition to an intense schedule at the high school, Hussain is taking a Running Start class at Everett Community College. He’s also the Junior Class President, a long-time member of the award-winning Viking Colt Robotics Club and also plays soccer for a recreational league. He is the son of Talat and Farzana Hussain of Lake Stevens, who also made the trip to Dallas with their son.

Hussain has attended Lake Stevens schools since kindergarten—starting at Hillcrest Elementary School and then transitioning to Lake Stevens Middle School, Cavelero Mid High School and Lake Stevens High School.

Read the Everett Herald article, "Lake Stevens teen chosen to help reach for the stars"

Kashan Hussain