35 www. ReadMPM. com | www.MountPl easantMagaz i ne. com | www.MountPl easantPodcas t . com It is said that wildfires can begin from the smallest sparks touching dry earth. It is a fact that most of them start from human activity, not by lightning striking from the heavens or by the misguided heat of the sun. Those are rare. It is human intervention that makes the biggest flames. Something occurs. A match is dopped. A campfire is started. There is an ignition point, followed by a domino effect that leads to an entire mountainside set ablaze. Bryant Nowicki is a freshman at the University of Alabama. He is there on the coveted J100 Leadership Scholarship, awarded to a select few high school members of the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, or JROTC. Nowicki hopes to serve as an officer in the Airforce, and, potentially, the recently formed Space Force after completing his education. Though his future is bright, it is his journey to his current position that is so unique. Nowicki knows when the spark touched him that set his fire and changed the trajectory of his life; he can pinpoint it to the single occurrence. It started years before the recipient of the prestigious scholarship knew what he was destined to become. He was brand-new to the Mount Pleasant area and fresh to Laing Middle School. It was October 2, 2017, and Nowicki was only in the eighth grade. Space Station Commander Randy Bresnik of NASA took questions from Laing Middle School students while orbiting in space five years ago. A handful of students were granted the opportunity to represent the entire student body and facilitate communication between their school and the astronaut. Among those co-eds was new-to-town Bryant Nowicki. Having impressed his math and science teachers with his curiosity and intellect, the previously unknown student was thrust into the spotlight. “I remember being up there in front of the whole class, representing them all. It opened my eyes,” Nowicki recalled. Reaching for the Stars Meet Mount Pleasant Student Bryant Nowicki BY LORNA HOL L I F I ELD Br yant Nowi ck i i n h i s JROTC un i form. Photo prov i ded.