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Shaw Student Lands Internship with NASA

T. Banks - smallerUpon meeting Shaw University Athletic Training and Sports Medicine student Akeem Banks for the first time, he admits, “I wasn’t always the scholar I am today.” Since enrolling at Shaw, Banks has found himself on the path to obtaining better grades, studying habits and taking full advantage of Shaw’s challenging curriculum by becoming a member of the University’s Honors College -- to which he attributes most of his undergraduate success.  

Wanting to enhance his academic experience, Banks was encouraged to apply for the NASA internship through the University’s Center for Experiential Learning and Career Development. “I chose this particular internship because of its uniqueness and diversity, said Banks. It was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before. I was able to work with people who are involved with the development of the human race beyond earth.”

Over the 15-week fall session spent at the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, Banks worked on a countermeasures project for human behavior and performance risks in long-duration spaceflights. Under the supervision of the Director of Space Life Sciences, Banks analyzed spaceflight incidents discussed in astronaut autobiographies, archived the information in a database, and examined exercise countermeasures for negative mood states and disturbances to the body’s biological clock system.  

In addition, he analyzed statistical data on previous astronaut’s behavioral (or psychological) health issues, team cohesion/training issues, and human performance/sleep deprivation issues based on exposure to space, crew member size, food, and several other categorical areas while they were on board the international space shuttles or on lunar missions.

Aside from learning about the everyday functions of astronauts in space and the endurance of the human body, Banks said the life lessons he learned from this experience were even more valuable. “I learned a lot about how to continuously set goals in life and to always strive for greatness and growth.”

After graduation, Banks plans on attending graduate school to earn a Master’s degree in Exercise Physiology and a doctorate in Neuromechanics or possibly attend medical school. In addition, he was offered an opportunity to go back to NASA for another internship and plans to take it in the near future. Banks is grateful for the skills he has learned at Shaw, and would like to remind his peers that “no matter the obstacles and trials in life you face, always keep striving for the best, because you never know until you try!”

Written by Andrea Williams ’12