Aspiring astronaut celebrates success with first-class degree

12:46pm Friday 4th July 2014

By Victoria Oliphant

An aspiring astronaut is celebrating success after receiving a first class degree in astrophysics.

Proud mum Deborah Longstaff contacted The Borehamwood Times to let people know about her daughter Emma’s success.

Emma Longstaff, 22, will graduate from Leicester University on July 16, after four years of studying to achieve the first class masters degree.

Although she has always had a dream of being an astronaut, Emma never enjoyed subjects such as science while she was at school.

She said: “I pretty much hated maths and science until about Year 9, but somehow it all went uphill from there.”

Her mother added: “Year 9 was the first time a teacher didn’t laugh at her for wanting to be an astronaut. They explained what subjects she needed to take, so Emma just said okay and worked hard from then on.”

The former St Teresa’s pupil now plans to study for a PhD in Leicester this September and is pleased to be able to break into science as a woman.

She added: “I was a bit worried when I first got to university that everyone would either be a man or be a geek, so I was really surprised that the people were ‘normal’. The balance between men and women on the course was really bad, but I like that I’ll be able to call myself a female doctor in science.”

Mrs Longstaff said she was incredibly proud of her daughter’s achievements and added: “I burst into tears of joy when I found out. I wouldn’t have cared what grade she’d got but I knew how hard she had worked for it and that it was a grade she was really proud of too.”

Although the first-class student had not always known what she wanted to study at university, or even where, she said that she is very pleased to have ended up at her second choice.

She said: “Leicester is an amazing university. They’ve always got something going up into space and there’s always something lying around that will be sent up at some point in the future. I’m really pleased I actually ended up there instead of my first choice.”

After working hard for the last four years, both at university and with a part-time job in the holidays, she is looking forward to a summer of relaxing before she heads back to university later this year.

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