[Updated at 4:30 p.m. Oct. 21 with the correct spelling of Jasmin Alsaied's name.]

YERMO Jasmin Alsaied's love of science began when her fifth-grade teacher taught her class about rocks, mountains and geologic processes.

Today the Silver Valley High School sophomore is one of only 15 students nationwide to win the Bernard Curtis Brown II Memorial Scholarship to go to Space Camp in Huntsville, Ala., this year. Jasmin will spend much of her winter vacation experiencing what it's like to be weightless, blowing up rockets and solving real-life science problems.

"When I first heard about it I thought it was a good enrichment camp," Jasmin said, adding that she wants to pursue a career as a nuclear engineer. "I hope it will give me a better understanding of my career path and show me other students who appreciate the same things I do."

To win the Space Camp scholarship, Jasmin, who lives with her mother, an interpreter in the U.S. Army, at Fort Irwin, had to be affiliated with the military. She wrote a hand-written essay on why she wanted to go to Space Camp, what the camp was going to get in return and how her Space Camp experience will help her career goals. Jasmin also had to submit two letters of recommendation.

Jasmin said she wouldn't have won her scholarship without help from teachers at Silver Valley High and her mother.

"She gave me the determination I needed math got too hard or the chemistry problem got too complicated," Jasmin said. "SVHS helped me with the (application) process. Teachers helped me with the essay."

The Bernard Curtis Brown II Memorial Scholarship sponsored by the Military Child Education Coalition was named for an 11-year-old boy who was on the plane that crashed into the Pentagon during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The first scholarship was awarded in 2002.

The coalition awards 15 scholarships every year. This year about 200 children applied for a scholarship to go to Space Camp, said Denise Montana-Graham, retail and logistics manager with the coalition. Children apply from all over the world and each year it gets more competitive.

"Each year it gets harder and harder because the children are more competitive," she said, adding that the students who really want the scholarship will double check their essays and get good letters of recommendation. "You can tell the ones that really really want the scholarship."

Jasmin is the first student at Silver Valley High School to have won the Bernard Curtis Brown scholarship, said principal Cameron Smart.

"We're excited for her opportunity to spend time at Space Camp," he said. "And proud that she's from Silver Valley High School. She came to us as a pretty awesome kid."

Contact the writer:
(760) 256-4123 or jcejnar@desertdispatch.com