Remember being 8 years old? Everything seemed so big. The grown-ups in your life. The hallways at school. The events that you looked forward to, such as holidays or summer break. The wide world around you was yours to explore.
So, when you’re 8 and you get the chance to be in the presence of someone who has been out of this world – an astronaut – it’s more than big. It’s monumental.
Caroline Ponzillo, the 8-year-old daughter of Regions Community Relations Officer Stephen Ponzillo, recently had such an opportunity. She attended a special event hosted by the Girl Scouts of West Central Florida that featured a true American hero: engineer, physician, educator and NASA astronaut, Dr. Mae Jemison. Here’s Caroline’s report on the experience, in her own words:
My name in Caroline Ponzillo. I am in second grade at Mary Bryant Elementary in Tampa, Florida. In Girl Scouts, I am a Brownie in Troop 1843. I have been a Girl Scout since kindergarten.
My dad works for Regions. When kids at school ask me what he does, I tell them he is a ‘community helper.’ He is also a board member for Girl Scouts of West Central Florida and volunteers with my troop.
I was so excited to go to the Girl Scouts Women of Distinction Luncheon. I sat at the Regions table with my dad and met other people who work at Regions and help our community. Most exciting of all was that I got to see Dr. Mae Jemison – the first woman of color to go to space! I read about her in a book my aunt gave me about amazing women and girls. Before the luncheon, I got to shake Dr. Jemison’s hand and take a photo with her. During the luncheon, I listened to her speech.
I liked when she talked about when she was in kindergarten. She told her teacher that she wanted to be a scientist when she grew up. Her teacher asked her if she ‘meant to say a nurse,’ since girls don’t usually become scientists. Then, Dr. Jemison said she put her hands on her hips and told her teacher, ‘No, I want to be a scientist!’
When I grow up, I want to be an author. My favorite subjects in school are reading and writing. I love writing stories and my teacher says I am an amazing writer!”
Caroline’s biggest takeaways from hearing Dr. Jemison speak were that she can grow up to be what she wants to be, and the support of educators and adults is important to helping children achieve their dreams. Her Dad, Stephen, says he couldn’t be more proud of her.
“Caroline always impresses me, but rarely surprises me. She is an incredible young lady and at only 8 years old, I am so proud of how she represented herself, her troop and Regions by attending this event with me,” Ponzillo said. “I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for her!”
Ponzillo says supporting events such as the one his daughter was able to attend is important to the bank.
“At Regions, we work every day to make life better for our customers, our associates and the communities we call home. We recognize that we can’t truly advance our mission if we aren’t always looking for ways to do more to champion women and girls,” Ponzillo explained. “As a Girl Scouts of West Central Florida Board member and a girl dad, I cannot think of a more meaningful way to honor women who have truly made a difference, while also inspiring the next generation of female leaders to make the world they inherit even better.”