Kiera Wilmot was an honor student at her Florida high school until she was expelled after an ill-advised science experiment exploded at the school and then faced felony charges. However, thanks to the generosity of one man, Wilmot will attend camp at the U.S. Space Academy this summer.
In April 2012, Kiera Wilmot, 16, was an honor student at Bartow High School. When her science experiment exploded, she was accused of “igniting a chemical explosion on school grounds.” Wilmot was then arrested and suspended from school pending an expulsion hearing.
Wilmot was expelled from school; however the prosecutor dropped all the criminal charges against her. Wilmot’s mother, Marie Wilmot stated the entire ordeal was a nightmare.
Speaking with ABC News, Marie Wilmot said, “The initial phone call was terrifying. Time will help I hope, it was devastating for me as a mother.”
A NASA veteran and former International Space Station astronaut-trainer, Homer Hickam heard about the explosion and said it struck a chord in him as, he too, had a similar problem. In the late 1950’s, Hickman said he got in trouble for setting a forest fire.
Hickam shared his story of when the State Police arrived at his high school and led him away in handcuffs. Hickam went on to say that thankfully his high school physics professor and school principal stood up for him and helped him clear his name.
Using his own life experience as a guide, Homer Hickam made the decision to step in and give Wilmot a chance to cultivate her passion for science. The generous man paid for a full scholarship for her to attend space camp this summer at the U.S. Academy.
Hickam went on to say, “I couldn’t let this go without doing something. 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, so I purchased a scholarship for her.”
When Hickam found out that Kiera had a twin sister who was also into science, he raised enough money to purchase a scholarship for Kayla as well. Hickam said he wanted the two sisters to be able to go to space camp together in July.
Learning she and her sister would be going to space camp, Kiera said, “I’m really excited about going. Especially the zero gravity tank, I’ve always wanted to do that.”
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Austin Marriage Examiner
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