“The explosion struck a chord with 18-year NASA veteran Homer Hickam, a former lead astronaut training manager for Spacelab, and later for the International Space Station.
In the late 1950s, Hickam had a brush with law enforcement for allegedly starting a forest fire. State police came to his high school and led him and his friends away in handcuffs, but his high school physics professor and school principal came to the rescue, clearing him of wrongdoing.
Back then, schools did not have zero tolerance rules. Kids could make their mistakes without the threat of a criminal record, or serving time in jail.
"I couldn’t let this go without doing something," Hickam said. "I’m not a lawyer, but I could give her something that would encourage her. I’ve worked closely with the U.S. Space Academy, and so I purchased a scholarship for her."