McCracken County High School senior Mason Hancock loves space and loves to be challenged, so why not go into rocket science?
“I’ve been interested in space for a long time with the Challenger Learning Center here and all that and my older brother actually works at NASA,” he said. “I’ve heard all those stories and stuff that he’s told and how it’s a good place to work at.”
Hancock, 17, wants to put his interest in the math and sciences to good use and help out with space travel one day and also to work at NASA — just like his older brother, Matthew Hancock. Naturally, he gets a little inspiration from his brother.
“He also got a doctorate in chemical engineering at UK and so, seeing him being able to get his doctorate really gives me motivation to get my doctorate and to go to the college that I want to and work at the place that I want to because that’s what he’s done,” he said. “So, I’m trying to follow his footsteps, but in my own way to go through aerospace engineering instead of chemical engineering.”
Hancock aims to eventually earn a doctorate in aerospace engineering and his top choice for undergraduate study is the University of Alabama in Huntsville.
“It’s interesting to see like where used to — whenever humans would explore and everything — they would be able to explore the world. And then, now it seems like it’s targeted towards space and I want to be a part of that,” Hancock said.
He remembers when he got a better look at the space program during a camp in Huntsville, between his seventh and eighth grade years.
“There I really learned like what truly happens in the space program and what goes on and what they research and all that,” he said. “Ever since then, I’ve been really interested in it and that’s what shifted my focus to wanting to go to college in Huntsville, Alabama.”
Hancock, son of Skip and Dena Hancock of Paducah, is the Paducah Bank Teen of the Week.
Each Monday and Tuesday, The Sun publishes profile stories on area high school seniors selected from a pool of nominations for Teen of the Week recognition. Around the end of the school year, a committee names one of these students as Teen of the Year. It comes with a $5,000 scholarship. A second student is chosen for the Inspiration Award and a $1,000 scholarship.
At McCracken County, Hancock has earned a cumulative weighted GPA above 4.25 and received a 33 composite ACT score. He’s a National Honor Society member and also participates in the school’s theatre department, in addition to his involvement with the MainStage School of Performing Arts in Paducah.
Theatre is a hobby of his and Hancock has performed in several productions. He’s also part of the Boy Scouts of America and is currently working to obtain his Eagle Scout rank, having already completed his Eagle Scout project.
“I was in Cub Scouts before I was in Boy Scouts and I really like how it kind of trains you to be a leader and it helps you to focus on good qualities that you should focus on,” he said.
“And there is a bunch of really nice people involved in there and they’ve taught me a lot and helped me develop the person I’ve become and who I’ll end up being the rest of my life.”
In the meantime, Hancock is staying busy with his senior year of high school at McCracken County and tackling that challenge.
“It’s been different really because it’s been kind of a challenge being able to juggle everything at home and trying to get all the college stuff in, but so far, I’ve really enjoyed senior year.”