An East Texas teenager got the educational experience of a lifetime after he thought a health scare had ruined it all.
NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston hosts an Aerospace Scholars program for high school juniors. The summer camp is extremely competitive to get in, takes months of preparation, and only lasts for six days.
Like many high school seniors, Bullard student Cody Hutson had a decision to make.
"I was having trouble between going into a medical field and mechanical engineering," says Cody.
After being selected to participate in NASA's prestigious high school scholars program, Cody spent months preparing for his not-so-typical summer camp.
"We had an essay every week, a math question every week, and a journal," he explains.
When he finally got there, "I started wheezing really bad and I passed out," says Cody.
Cody had a severe asthma attack for the first time in years. He ended up spending days at the hospital instead of at the space center.
"I didn't think I was going to get to finish and they offered and said, 'You don't have to do anything. You don't have to pay for anything. We just need to get you a new badge,' and they said I could come back the next week and I was like, 'Oh, yes! Yes, please!'" says Cody.
However, that wasn't all the program organizers had planned.
"Cindy McArthur [a program organizer] sent her husband, the astronaut, to come see me, so I got to meet an astronaut. He came by and signed a picture for me; it says, 'Reach for the stars.The sky is not the limit,'" says Cody. "I got to shake is hand and say thank you so much."
When he returned to camp, Cody and his teammates excelled. Their work landed them in first place.
"We got this coin. It's made out of metal from the space shuttles that have been in space," says Cody.
Not only did Cody get some souvenirs, he also got the answers he'd been looking for.
"I'm definitely going into mechanical engineering. It changed my life. It helped me make decisions that I would have had difficulties making otherwise," Cody says.
Cody also gets high school credit for completing the course. His parents say they're impressed with the program organizers' efforts to make extra room for him in the next camp session and for visiting him while he was at the hospital.