Space girl Sophie Ballard hopes her career will blast off after winning a rare scholarship to study a subject that’s out of this world.
The high-flying student has been awarded the top level of help on the degree course in space science at the Florida Institute of Technology University.
Sophie will look at all aspects of space – from astronomy to astrophysics – after leaving her South Yorkshire home for one of the USA’s top institutions next year.
She was chosen to receive the scholarship, worth $18,000 annually, because of her academic excellence.
Budding space researcher Sophie, aged 18, said: “It is my dream to study space sciences.
“I’ve been interested in it since the age of seven when I read books about space.
“When I first opened the email to say ‘you’re admitted’ I hardly dared believe it. To say I was euphoric would be an understatement.
“I think I’m the only person in the country to get the scholarship.
“You can study astrophysics in the UK but I wanted to go abroad because there are a lot of opportunities for space research and links with companies that work at NASA.”
Sophie received an unconditional offer from the university which was the first in America to offer space science and has direct links with the Kennedy Space Centre.
Her top grades, including eight A* GCSEs from St Bernard’s RC School in Herringthorpe, Rotherham, and excellent SAT reasoning tests as part of the US college application process, were behind the success. Sophie is also waiting for her A-Level results in maths, physics and French from Thomas Rotherham College. Mum Julie Ballard, of Conrad Drive, Maltby, said the family were ‘over the moon’.