A group of students smile while sitting at a restaurant dinner table in Seattle.

Written by Christina Zerka, an ELP Student who attended the 2023 Seattle Trek.

If you’re wondering why a Neuroscience, Biopsychology, and Cognition major like myself embarked on a space TREK, let me assure you it was one of the most unforgettable experiences during my time at the University of Michigan. I’ve always been captivated by the mysteries of space, even though my academic path didn’t lead me directly into the cosmos. But as they say, it’s vital to venture outside our comfort zones, and boy, did I take that to heart. In the words of the great Apollo 13 mission, “Houston, we have a problem.” Well, in this case, it was more of a delightful predicament.

The journey began with a breathtaking destination: Seattle. The combination of mountains, the cityscape, and the surrounding waters left me spellbound. And by some cosmic miracle, we arrived during one of the rare rain-free periods! Our inaugural night saw us dining with U of M alumni, who generously shared their backgrounds, experiences, and love for the Emerald City. We embarked on a city exploration that led us to the Ferris Wheel just before closing, a delightful start to our adventure.

The Seattle Skyline

The following day was an odyssey in itself as we visited StokeSpace, a company co-founded by a U of M alum, Andy. Witnessing nitrogen gas deliveries and the buzz of activity in the headquarters was an awe-inspiring experience. It was evident how much risk and determination went into establishing such an enterprise. We even engaged in an activity where we brainstormed ideas to expand Space Stoke’s business strategy, fostering teamwork while having a blast.

As if that wasn’t enough, we had the privilege of meeting Rob Meyerson, the former president of Blue Origin, who imparted invaluable insights about the industry’s trends and future directions. Our intellectual boundaries expanded further when we tackled the challenge of crafting moon-mining legislation as a team. This adventure was a revelation into a rapidly growing and endlessly fascinating industry.

Our next escapade brought us to PureWaterCraft, where we got to ride in the first electric boat. The silence and the stunning city views from the lake were nothing short of surreal. Our visit to the University of Washington showcased the campus’s beauty, although I couldn’t help but remind myself that the U of M will always prevail in its beauty—Go Blue forever!

Meeting Jason Stoffer and Kevin Crosby introduced us to Seattle’s vibrant angel investing community, adding yet another layer to our cosmic adventure. But our final day together as a cohort deserved a grand celebration. We chose to mark it with kayaking, volleyball, a breathtaking sunset, and a late-night stop at iHop, a blend of adventure and indulgence.

Students smile for a selfie on a watercraft during the Seattle Trek.

Departure day brought bittersweet farewells to both our fellow cohort members and the enchanting city of Seattle. Yet, the impact of this adventure on our professional, academic, and personal lives is a cosmic force that will endure for a lifetime. The people and mentors we met along the way were like guiding stars, illuminating our path toward the unknown.

In the end, my space TREK was much more than a trip; it was a journey into the heart of learning, bonding, and growth. I had an extraordinary experience – one that will remain etched in the stars of my memory forever.

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