Published: Jan. 27, 2022

Two University of Colorado Boulder students have earned 2022 Brooke Owens Fellowships. The highly competitive program provides paid internships and mentoring to exceptional undergraduate women seeking careers in aviation or space exploration.

Aerospace undergraduates Liza Graybill and Sydney Walthall have been named 2022 winners.

The program honors the memory of Brooke Owens, a space industry pioneer and accomplished pilot. Owens’ career took her to NASA, the X-Prize Foundation, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the White House. Her enthusiasm and passion for aerospace led friends and colleagues to create a foundation to inspire and train exceptional undergraduate women with the same zeal for space exploration.

Liza Graybill (AeroEngr'25)

Host Institution: Draper Laboratory

Liza is a sophomore at the University of Colorado Boulder, majoring in Aerospace Engineering. The discipline is a relatively new love of Liza’s, not realized until after graduating from high school. She took her time exploring different studies prior to trying out engineering, and she hasn’t looked back since. Liza earned an Associate of Science degree in Pre-Engineering at Pima Community College before transferring to CU Boulder. She decided to combine her engineering studies with her passion for space exploration and pursue her Bachelor’s degree.

In 2021, Liza participated in a Research Experience for Undergraduates program sponsored by the National Science Foundation and spent the summer doing research in hypersonics at the University of Arizona. That experience gave her a glimpse at the world of research in aerospace and allowed active exploration of her interests.

Liza is a member of the CU Boulder oSTEM chapter and is looking forward to doing outreach in STEM education in the future. You can find Liza exploring somewhere in nature and enjoying the outdoors in her free time. She also enjoys creating art. Fun fact: Liza had a postcard copy of one of her art pieces fly in space on the first all-civilian crew mission, Inspiration4!

As a Brooke Owens Fellow, Liza will be spending the summer at Draper Laboratory. She looks forward to being inspired by her work.

Sydney Walthall (AeroEngr'24)

Host Institution: Northrop Grumman Space

Sydney is a sophomore studying Aerospace Engineering Sciences at University of Colorado Boulder. She is from Sacramento, California and loved being able to make trips to the mountains and the beach growing up.

Growing up Sydney loved looking at the moon, stars, and planets through her telescope and was excited by trips to Kennedy Space Center as a kid. She has wanted to be an aerospace engineer since middle school and is happy to be learning about the industry everyday while enjoying all of the outdoor activities Colorado has to offer.

Sydney previously interned at Johnson Space Center, where she supported development of the Exploration Extravehicular Mobility Unit (xEMU) through her work with the Pressure Garment Subsystem (PGS) team. She is the president of the CU Technology for Extreme Environments (CUTEE) club on campus, where she leads a team working on NASA’s Spacesuit User Interface Technologies for Students (SUITS) challenge to design and create spacesuit information displays within augmented reality (AR) environments. Sydney is also an Undergraduate Research Assistant at BioServe Space Technologies, which is a leading payload developer for life science experiments that are operated by astronauts aboard the International Space Station.

In her free time, Sydney volunteers for Guide Dogs for the Blind and loves going on walks, runs, and spending quality times with her furry friends. She likes to experiment with cooking and baking whether it be paella or key lime pie, and always goes diving in Monterey when she has time off from school. Sydney loves snowboarding in the winter and spending quality time with her friends and coworkers as much as she can.