My Voyage With Voyager

Watching Star Trek: Voyager has changed my life. I grew up in a household with a single, disabled mother who could not work. Throughout nineteen formative years, my mother dedicated herself to raising and educating me. I did not have many role models growing up, save for her and some influential figures in my favorite subject in school, which was history. In addition to this, I have danced classical ballet since the age of four. My first contact with Voyager came at the age of sixteen in Bozeman, Montana when I stayed with a ballet host-family during the summer. I had never cared to watch Star Trek in the past and had no "Trekkies" in my family. However, as I was settling in for the two weeks I was staying, they asked if I wanted to join them in watching an episode of "Star Trek: The Next Generation". After I came home, I researched the franchise and also learned about Voyager and DS9. Less than two years later, I returned to the family for another summer intensive and fell in love with the series that made me a fan of the franchise...."Star Trek: Voyager". For some reason the voice and tone of Captain Janeway stuck with me as she even sounded and even resembled my own mother in many ways. After watching some episodes, I called my mother and told her about this extraordinary captain. Upon returning home, I had us begin Voyager from start to finish and I had the complete joy of watching my mother become a fan of Star Trek through Voyager. 


   
The Intrepid Voyager crew


As I began my senior year in high-school, my mother and I watched Voyager from start to finish. Since then, I have grown a great deal. Seeing a strong and dignified female character like Captain Janeway has made a positive and significant effect on my life, especially as a young woman. She was determined and steadfast, showing immense tenacity and fortitude. Janeway was her own woman and never lowered her principles or standards. In addition to leading a crew in uncharted territory, Janeway was the first female Captain to lead a Star Trek series. In the 4th season, another crewmate was brought to light who would become my favorite character within the Star Trek franchise: "Seven of Nine". Watching Seven on Voyager truly helped me as I finished high-school. Seeing her overcome hardships was very inspiring to me - as it paralleled many things in my life. I was facing a large roadblock during this time, as I was met with constant upheaval and stress. Seeing how confident, brave, and beautiful Seven was gave me a fire inside my spirit not to give up. I drew much strength from her then, and I continue to do so now. Seven of Nine was a wonderful role-model to me, and I connected to their mother-daughter relationship with Janeway, as the latter reminds me of my own mother. I will never forget one day when my mother and I went to court fighting for child support. Prior to going, my mother had us pit on an episode to calm the nerves. We chose the episode "The Voyager Conspiracy", most notably for the final scene between Seven of Nine and Captain Janeway. That moment touched me in a way no other scene had done, as the Captain getting on Seven's eye level and reminding her of the "bond" that had grown between them was so reminiscent of my mother and me. 


                                                                                 Captain Janeway 

                                                                                     Seven of Nine 
The scene in "The Voyager Conspiracy" which has always touched me and my mother. Captain Janeway's recitation of the stardates, mixed with Seven's vulnerability was beautifully written.


In addition to the bond between Captain Janeway and Seven of Nine, I connected to the beautiful love story between Commander Chakotay and Seven of Nine. Their relationship was quite special as it showed first meetings do not have to dictate a future and second chances bring prosperous possibilities. The connection of both characters stemming from Chakotay breaking Seven's link to the Borg was predictable and surprising. One of the most special scenes between the two was in the episode "One Small Step" when Chakotay and Seven discuss their childhood aspirations. It was very special to see Seven of Nine admit she wanted to be a ballerina and Chakotay encourage her in saying that "maybe it's not too late." As the two would grow closer and closer, any sweet glace lit up the screen, most notably in the episode "Human Error". A true gentleman and lady until the very end of the series.


        My favorite picture of Chakotay and Seven of Nine as they share a loving moment in "Endgame"


Additionally, the camaraderie and friendships between the Voyager crewmembers was like no other. Episodes such as "Night" showed the playful holodeck adventures of Tom Paris and Harry Kim while "Someone To Watch Over Me" showed a tender side of The Doctor. Characters such as Tuvok and B'elanna Torres would show how people with different temperaments deal with situations and personal growth. The latter would show herself to be extremely gifted and smart as Voyager's Chief Engineer. With reoccurring characters such as the "Borg Queen", the Voyager crew was far from danger and tested many a time. Furthermore, two-part episodes such as "Equinox" would question Captain Janeway's humanity and retaliation against a wayward Starfleet Captain. 


In the summer of 2019, my mother drove us to Bloomington, Indiana - the fictional birthplace of Captain Kathryn Janeway. While walking downtown, I noticed a poster of Captain Janeway in the window of a local shop. I could not believe my eyes when the poster remarked of creating a statue in her honor. After taking some pictures of the poster, the owner of the shop came out, gave me the poster and a pin from the organization ("Janeway Collective"). To quote the words on the monument poster the Captain held: "integrity, humanity, honesty". Later that year, I dressed up as Seven of Nine for Halloween. 


  Myself with the Janeway poster


                                                            Me as Seven of Nine circa Halloween 2019

                                      
As the months moved forward, I would choose my university and out of all the states, I would find myself back in Indiana, less than three hours from Bloomington. Within months of starting college, we drove down to Bloomington once more to attend the Janeway Statue unveiling. This event was more than memorable as the actress who played Captain Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) appeared virtually and gave her regards to the statue built in her landmark character's honor. It was an honor to be featured in the commemoration video expressing what the character of Captain Janeway meant to me on "Star Trek: Voyager". To quote Janeway's words I recited in the video: "keep your shirt tucked in, go down with the ship - and never abandon a member of your crew." 

                                                                The Janeway Statue (photo taken my me)


In closing with this essay, I want to also remark upon the crew of Voyager. Throughout its seven-year run, this crew showed just as much strength, remaining loyal and capable of facing many hindrances. Commander Chakotay, Lt. Tom Paris, Chief Engineer B'elanna Torres, Lt. Tuvok, The Doctor, Ensign Harry Kim, Morale Officer Neelix, and Kes all made their special mark on Voyager not only as crewmembers but as people making a difference for the betterment of humanity. From the first episode "Caretaker" to the series finale "Endgame", Voyager captivated me as an audience member. The latter episode holds a special place in my heart as it is my favorite in the franchise. From Janeway's interactions with her younger self to Seven finding love with Chakotay to the end of the Borg Queen's game, this crew molded into a family. The Voyager USS was a house and Earth became home. 


                                                                       Voyager sets a course....for home
 

I am very grateful to the creators, actors, actresses and producers of "Star Trek: Voyager". If I one day have the honor of meeting the writers, I would tell that to them with much pride and truth that this show has been a bright spot in my life and given me hope for a better future. In quoting Seven of Nine, I do believe that "impossible is a word that humans use far too often" and to quote Captain Janeway "sometimes you got to look back in order to move forward." Be it on the move, in a hotel, or in a house, I will always feel at "home" whenever I watch an episode of my beloved series. 



  Happy 26th Anniversary Voyager!






All "Star Trek" related pictures used belong to CBS/Paramount Studios. No copyright intended.






Comments

  1. Beautiful article, Katie.
    I totally agree that Janeway is an excellent role model. As a newbie to Voyager, she has not had a significant impact on my life but I have been inspired by her compassionate management style have looked to be guided by this approach since being promoted last year.
    Happy Birthday Voyager!

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    Replies
    1. Thank-you so much Eve! Congratulations on the promotion and I'm happy Janeway has had a positive impact on you as well ❤

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