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Physics senior explores passion for astronomy in Arizona, Chile programs

When senior APSU physics major, Deborah Gulledge is not sewing as her hobby, she is immersed into the world of astronomy and what is out there to find in space.

Gulledge said she has loved astronomy ever since she was young, and her father spoke to her about outer space and physics. She said she built her dreams from there.

“My end goal is I really want to be an astronaut. It is a hard goal to work for, but I am going to try anyways,” Gulledge said. “I just accepted a Ph.D. position at Georgia State University and I am really excited about that because with my research I could go to Antartica.”

She calls it a cliché but Gulledge has had an interest in outer space since she was a child and she never lost that passion.

Her love for space and its mysteries brought her to APSU to study physics, the closest thing to an astronomy major offered.

“The fact that the universe is so big, and it is crazy to me that there is so much out there to learn about,” Gulledge said. “I really do like physics, and I was surprised that I did. It helped me learn a lot of problem-solving skills that I didn’t have before.”

Gulledge has taken many trips for astronomy through APSU and gained more knowledge on her passion. She even took a trip to Chile.

“It definitely reinforced how much I love astronomy. Passions kind of die if you don’t keep working with them, and I’ve gotten to go to really beautiful places like Arizona and Chile. The sky is so different and much prettier out there,” Gulledge said.

During these trips Gulledge has studied at national observatories and collected data on the images of stars, running the Gemini telescope.

This is one of the largest telescopes in the world and she learned new data gathering skills.

“It helped me see that I am in the right place and I am doing what I am supposed to be doing,” Gulledge said.

Gulledge mentioned that her family had a lot to do with keeping her inspired to keep following her dreams.

“I want to say thanks to my mom because my dad passed away when I was really young, and she raised my sister and me. I wouldn’t be here today without her help,” Gulledge said. “Wanting to be an astronaut is definitely one of the biggest dreams there is, and my mom was always telling me I could do it, not to give up on what I want to do.”

Through her studies and experiences Gulledge said that the advice she can give other students is to just ask questions and put themselves out there.

“I advise people to just go out and ask questions about trips, research and more because that is how you get things started. A lot of people don’t know about the things that are available to them until they ask,” Gulledge said.

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