For the longest time, doing anything space related seemed impossible.

My periapsis came and went in 2008 when I graduated from Bachelor of Engineering in Mechanical and Space from the University of Queensland in Australia. Back then, I had successfully organised the Queensland Youth Aerospace Forum (the predecessor of the Australian Youth Aerospace Forum) and just came back with my team after launching our ramjet engine in the Woomera Prohibited Area in the Australian desert. Yet, despite a perfect GPA and a great deal of volunteering experience, I could not find a space-related opportunity when I graduated. The problem was that I did not know about SGAC.

So begun my long journey out into the black emptiness. I was accepted into medical school and spent four long years being molded into a physician. Machines and humans are complex systems – but that is where the similarities end. I meddled in artificial hearts and global health for relief. I searched hard for a physician speciality where I fit in.

My passion for space remained. Along the way, I came across multiple seemingly random references made in regards to the field of space medicine. A close friend alerted me that the Annual Congress of the International Academy of Aviation and Space Medicine was in Melbourne in 2012, so I went. There I discovered a whole group of people who are passionately combining the fields of space and medicine. I had finally discovered what I am aiming for, but the how remains elusive. Australia would not have a space agency until 2018, it was clear that I have to figure this out some other way.

Eventually in 2015, Andrea Boyd, a friend that went back to the ramjet launching days who at that time just became an EUROCOM, recommended me to join SGAC. I had little idea what this organisation do but I subscribed to SGAC-Talk. While clearing through old SGAC-Talk emails, I saw that SGAC was looking for a web editor. Even though the deadline closed 14 days ago, and armed with only vague experience in HTML and WordPress, I applied. Somehow, I was accepted. Under Chantelle Dubois’s expert guidance, I started to learn Joomla and helped to upload content to the SGAC website. Along the way, I learned a great deal about SGAC and the opportunities that it offered. What I did not realise, was that this is not where the true heart of SGAC is.

I was very lucky to be accepted to the first Space Generation Fusion Forum that I applied to in 2016. There, people who I had only known by name and an email address became friends and then family. Being at that event, I realised that the strength and heart of SGAC is the network of people from across the world who are passionate about space. By finding other students and young professionals who are even more inspiring, passionate and ambitious about space, I realised that my impossible dream may actually be possible.

So alongside my residency (medical specialty) training in the United States and the accompanying 80 hours work weeks, I decided to devote myself fully in being part of SGAC. My orbit passed by the apoapsis and turned quickly back.

I became one of the Web Coordinators with Chantelle. I still remember how some people commented that I took up one of the toughest job in SGAC. The reality is that the Web Team is one of the most important and integral team in the organisation. SGAC is literally a virtual organisation, so almost everything that the organisation does involve some sort of web-related support. Through this role, I connected with almost every single team member, regional coordinator, NPoC, project group co-lead, event team and manager in the organisation. Each interaction was an opportunity to support our collective passion and further the mission of SGAC.

Eventually, I took the lead to completely rebuild our website. The process involved going back to the core of what SGAC is about and what its 14,000 members and the space community really want from the website and SGAC. Beneath the modern interface is a complex system of membership modules and databases that help SGAC functions efficiently. I am incredibly thankful for the talented team that included Dan Malgran, Eric Mwobobia and Oladeji Damilola who helped made this a success.

I am honoured to receive the Pioneer Award in recognition of my work in rebuilding the website as well as my other executive committee work over the past four years. However, each time I look at the shiny gold pioneer pin that came with this award, I am in fact humbled by the opportunities and support that SGAC has given me.

Being a part of SGAC is more than just about getting another last-minute email request for a huge event website that should have been up yesterday, or another reminder about overdue annual workplans, or hours-long teleconferences with incoherent discussions and migraine-inducing background noises.

SGAC is about this wonderful group of like-minded friends who are passionate about space. It is about helping everyone across the world with that passion to make it a reality.

I am truly lucky, thankful, and honoured to be part of this great organisation and the SGAC family.