When I was in high school, I won a few awards. Not to brag, but do you know I'm an award winner? Sometimes, you get really nice steak dinners, and sometimes you get dried out chicken breasts.
At the dried out chicken breast award ceremony, the hosts would call each recipient up to the front and interview them. Just the normal questions: what's your name, what's your favorite class, where are you headed to college, what's your intended major and career path. It's all well and good minus the fact there were about a billion award winners to get through.
As Woznicki starts with a W, my time to shine seemed impossibly far away. Around the K's, my parents, my friend (a co-award winner), her parents and I were decorating the table cloth with doodles to pass the time. We then chatted about how funny it would be to go up there and just name an absurd career goal. Haha, how funny would that be, right?
I'll tell you how funny it was, it was fucking hilarious.
So it's finnnnnnnally my turn to go up there, and the interview starts off normally.
"What's your name, and where are you going to college?" - Interviewer
"Sara Woznicki and James Madison University."
The Asian-looking guy who was helping present the awards noted into his microphone that it's a good school. **Fist-pump in my head**
"What are you planning on studying?" - Interviewer
Since we were on our like third hour of interviews, he was shortchanging us alphabet-enders of time. I needed to make sure I got my joke in and could put all my faith that he was going to ramble through all the questions, so I took this as my moment.
I got closer to the mic, as I had noticed from my decade of listening to previous interviews, not everyone gets close enough. I lean into the microphone, stare directly at my parent's table, and say with a straight face, "I'm currently undeclared, but I'm going to be a brain surgeon or rocket scientist."
If I was in control of the mic, this would have been my moment to drop the mic.
The guy holding the microphone looks really surprised and mumbles, "That's incredible." And with a shit-eating grin, I walk away with the confidence of a future rocket scientist.
When I get back to the table, my mother scolds me. Not because I just made a mockery of the ceremony, but because I didn't clearly explain what I would be doing at NASA. My only goal/intended job requirement was to just press the button to send the ship up, but that felt like too many words to get out without laughing.
Then I get a little more excited because someone in Connecticut had heard of JMU. So I say to the table, "Guys, the Asian man has heard of JMU before!"
Blank stares all around.
My dad looks at me like he had just witnessed a second head grow out of my shoulders.
"There's no Asian up there..."
So I point the guy out who looks Asian to me and the entire table busts out laughing. My dad laughs so much a tear escapes. I'm still lost, so I ask, "Why is this funny?"
My dad chokes out, (sidebar: sorry for using the guy's real name, but it explains why it's all so funny, hopefully he's alright with this) "His name is Len Fazano. He's 100% Italian and looks 100% Italian."
So apparently that night I was a rocket scientist who decided on a big liberal arts school without a strong rocket science program to kick off my NASA career who also can't tell an Asian from an Italian.