NASA astronaut visits hometown high school in Onslow County

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – NASA astronaut Christina Koch visited her former high school in Onslow County on Thursday to help encourage students to chase their dreams.

Koch attended White Oak High School and continued her education at North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics before attending NC State.

While growing up in Jacksonville, Koch shared that she remembers laying under pine trees dreaming of becoming an astronaut. Her dream came true in 2013 when NASA welcomed her to the team as an astronaut.

“Anything is possible,” said Koch. “That may sound cliche but it is actually true. Achieving a dream that you have is about hard work and teamwork by getting the most out of every opportunity that comes your way. That is something everyone here at White Oak can do.”

Koch says she is often asked what she took away from Eastern North Carolina.

“The fact that this place taught me that every single person has a contribution and is part of the team,” said Koch. “We are such a diverse place because we have so many people from around the world here. I came away knowing that in my core. I think that is what allowed me to embrace teamwork and every single person that has a dream and is willing to work hard to achieve it.”

Students at White Oak High School gathered in the auditorium to learn more about Koch and her experience in space. A senior at White Oak High School described Koch’s experience as inspiring.

“I feel like coming from a such a small town, there’s not much that you think you can do,” said Brianna Russell, a senior at the high school.

Koch says in order to achieve your dream, you have to believe.

In January, NASA announced that the Artemis crew is set to take off in September of 2025. Koch is one of four astronauts to take part in NASA’s Artemis II mission.