Elizabeth Bradshaw and her twin sister Lauren were homeschooled from pre-K to 12th grade in Northern Virginia. Their love of learning from an early age led to them going on lots of field trips which then progressed naturally into homeschooling. In high school, they were active in various clubs and organizations including Girl Scouts and the national homeschool honor society.
A self-described space nerd, Elizabeth was a founding member of an astronomy club that analyzes radio telescope data. She says “I especially enjoyed the astronomy club.” Elizabeth received the Girl Scout Gold Award (an achievement similar to Eagle Scout in Boy Scouts) for writing a book about careers in aerospace called, Your Place in Space: A Career Guide for Girls. It was published by Girl Scout Council of the Nation’s Capital and is available on Amazon.
Both Elizabeth and Lauren had technically finished high school at age 16, but their parents weren’t comfortable with them heading off to college at such a young age. So the sisters helped with their mom’s homeschool co-op, did some tutoring, saved for college, and took some dual-credit college classes.
By the time she graduated from Compass Homeschool Program in 2022, Elizabeth had packed her high school transcript with nearly six years of credits, including about a dozen dual-credit college courses such as French, chemistry, physics, geology, and programming. She also completed several prestigious internships.
In 2020, Elizabeth participated in the Virginia Aerospace Science and Technology Scholars program, leading a team of students to design and develop a simulated Mars mission. In the summer of 2021, Elizabeth served as an X-ray astrophysics intern at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center where she worked with a team of NASA scientists to process and study x-ray astronomy data.
According to Elizabeth, “X-radiation is absorbed by the earth’s atmosphere, and we are able to observe astronomical objects and phenomenon that emit radiation at X-ray wavelengths. By analyzing data from X-ray telescopes, I was able to gather insights into galaxy formation and their evolution.”
Elizabeth is also a graduate of Space Academy and Advanced Space Academy in Huntsville, Alabama, and had previously worked at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum as an “explainer.” She said at the time, “My job is to bridge the knowledge gap for visitors by explaining about artifacts in the museum. I also explain how airplanes fly, and how astronauts live and work in space and on the Saturn V.”
Elizabeth was offered a full-ride scholarship to the University of Alabama, but she turned it down in favor of Purdue University with a National Merit Scholarship from the Siemens Corp. She is majoring in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering with a minor in Mathematics. She plans to work in the space industry and is particularly interested in spacecraft propulsion and mission design.
Elizabeth is involved in on-campus research about radiation shielding for satellite hardware and serves on the Executive Board for Purdue Space Program, one of Purdue’s largest engineering organizations. She is also a current Satellite Operations Engineering Intern with Iridium in Leesburg, Virginia.
Elizabeth said that she was well prepared for her college classes “because I could study the things I was passionate about while homeschooling.” When she is not working or learning about space, Elizabeth enjoys cooking, playing the clarinet, and drawing custom pet portraits.