Community College Month: Jessica Bardetsky’s Path to NASA

Caption: Jessica Bardetsky holding a logbook as part of her internship project. Credit: Jessica Bardetsky
Caption: Jessica Bardetsky holding a logbook as part of her internship project. Credit: Jessica Bardetsky

At NASA, our workforce is made up of people who have pursued higher education in countless different fields – but that doesn’t always mean attending a 4-year university right after high school. In fact, many people in the NASA family (astronauts included!) have taken a non-traditional path to their education.

In celebration of Community College month, let’s chat with intern Jessica Bardetsky about her experience attending a community college.

Where It All Began

Since she was a little girl, Jessica has always been fascinated with space saying, “I love space! There is something mysterious about it. The first thing my family did after moving to Texas was visiting NASA. I could never dream that I would be able to work here.”

Jessica, a senior studying Public Health with a minor in Psychology, is a Data Entry intern. As a Data Entry intern Jessica updates master spreadsheets to ensure that each institutional imagery file has a metadata description prior to submission.

Jessica got her start at Lone Star Community College. “Lone Star provided me with the opportunity to complete core curriculum for a fraction of the cost. Attending Lone Star was one of the best decisions I made. Classes are much smaller and provided me with a more engaging learning environment and the opportunity to connect with both teachers and students.”

With excellent academic performance, she was able to transfer to Texas State University, where she was accepted into the National Health Education Honorary, Eta Sigma Gamma. As a member, Jessica connected with others where she was able to develop professional relationships and get involved in community outreach.

Starting at a community college was the first step in gaining the necessary qualifications to get into the honors club and bring what she learned from Eta Sigma Gamma into her NASA internship.

Seeking Guidance?

Jessica has some advice for other college students, “Do your research. Look into where you would like to work and contact the organization and ask if they accept interns and how you can become one. Everyone knows that NASA has internship programs, but not everybody knows that you don’t need to Major in Engineering to become an intern with NASA. This organization provides opportunities for non-engineering interns as well as engineering interns.”

Are you interested in learning more about NASA internships? Visit our website for more information on current NASA Internship opportunities. Or, check out our NASA Internship blog. There, you can find valuable tips on the best practices when applying. Also, be sure to follow us @NASAINTERNS on social media to keep up to date on all things NASA Internships!

Written by: Waryn Flavell

Intern Hopes to Research the Neurological Health of Astronauts During Missions

‘It has been unlike any other time in my life. I wish I had known before my internship that every chance you don’t take is an opportunity lost. I could never have anticipated what I experienced this summer.’’ Sewall interns at NASA’s Langley Research Center. Photo credit: (NASA/Michaela Sewall).
‘It has been unlike any other time in my life. I wish I had known before my internship that every chance you don’t take is an opportunity lost. I could never have anticipated what I experienced this summer.’’ Sewall interns at NASA’s Langley Research Center. Photo credit: (NASA/Michaela Sewall).

As a freshly graduated high school senior with little technical experience in the field, Michaela Sewall contacted Chad Stephens and Dr. Alan Pope, research scientists at NASA’s Langley Research Center (LRC), after reading their published paper on  bio-cybernetic adaptation strategies for human operators interacting with machines or computers.

Curiosity

Michaela was curious about engineering, brain function, physics, space, and medicine — but she was uncertain on how to piece together these areas of study. After landing an internship at NASA’s LRC, she began working on psycho-physiological research for autonomous aviation in the In-Time System-Wide Safety Assurance as part of NASA’s Aeronautics Airspace Operations and Safety Program.

Interning virtually this past summer, Michaela drove to her father’s office in the morning and worked from his conference room. She would set up her Raspberry Pi, a small computer used to learn programming, and biosensors to conduct her research throughout each day.

The Study

‘Everyone is so willing to help and answer any questions you have.’ Michaela studies electrical engineering and neurobiology at Washington University in St. Louis as an undergraduate sophomore. Photo credit: (NASA / Michaela Sewall).
‘Everyone is so willing to help and answer any questions you have.’ Michaela studies electrical engineering and neurobiology at Washington University in St. Louis as an undergraduate sophomore. Photo credit: (NASA / Michaela Sewall).

She directed a study, ‘Investigating the Effects of Passive and Adaptive Bio-Cybernetic Two Dimensional and Virtual Reality Stimulus on Psychophysiological and Cognitive State Reactions,’ and coordinated a team of advocates to communicate complex engineering concepts to non-engineers.

‘It has been unlike any other time in my life. I wish I had known before my internship that every chance you don’t take is an opportunity lost.’

Goals

With goals to become a neuroengineer with a background in electrical engineering, neuroscience, and medicine, Michaela’s career aspirations involve researching the neurological, psychophysiological, and biological health of the astronauts before, during, and after their missions.

‘I have had the opportunity to speak to flight surgeons and center directors all because I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and asked for a few minutes of their time. Everyone is so willing to help and answer any questions you have.’

Do YOU want to be on the NASA team? Check out our website to learn more about the Artemis Generation and find information on eligibility and application steps. 

Claire A. O’Shea / NASA Johnson Space Center

From Star Ceiling Stickers to Mission Design- Lauren Daniels

A picture of NASA Intern Lauren Daniels
‘Boulder is my favorite town on the planet.’ Lauren Daniels pictured on the Lost Gulch Park overlook in Boulder, Colorado. Lauren attends the University of Colorado Boulder as an engineering student. ‘I was determined that a career in STEM would be the right fit for me so I decided on aerospace engineering. This made the University of Colorado Boulder the obvious choice when it came time to pick a school. I couldn’t have made a better decision.’ Photo credit: (NASA/Lauren Daniels).

Lauren Daniels’ interest in space first started when she was a child. In elementary school, her bedroom was adorned with themes of space, complete with ‘glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling’ and posters from a neighbor that had presented about space to her entire first grade class. At the age of 6, Lauren attended a space camp and was selected as commander for the mock base in a simulation mission of ‘lunar explorers.’

Fast forward to high school, she was captivated by math, science, and astronomy, and was third in her class upon graduation. Lauren decided to pursue a degree in aerospace engineering.

NASA Intern Laruen Daniels in front of the flag of the United States and NASA's flag.
‘From the moment I heard the word, I knew I wanted to be an astronaut.’ Lauren Daniels at her NASA Pathways internship headshot photoshoot. Photo credit: (NASA/ Lauren Daniels).

Her intern journey began when she first worked on Orion Spacecraft with Lockheed Martin: the exploration vehicle that will carry human crew to space, provide emergency abort capability, sustain the crew during the space travel, and provide safe re-entry from deep space return velocities.

‘This experience strengthened my love of all things NASA, and encouraged me to apply for the Pathways Internship Program. I didn’t get in the first time I applied, but I kept applying as often as I could, and eventually I was accepted.’

As an intern at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, Lauren works on mission design insight for the Human Landing System (HLS). She runs a trade study that analyzes different times and places that humans could land on the moon, updates the flight plan to match the latest designs, and creates a tool to analyze lighting and communication availability on various landing trajectories.

A concept illustration of SpaceX Starship Human Landing System (HLS).
Illustration of SpaceX Starship Human Landing System (HLS) design that will carry the first NASA astronauts to the surface of the Moon under the Artemis program. Illustration credit: (SpaceX/NASA).

Many students still have some misconceptions when it comes to applying for a NASA internship. We’re here to change that. Take a look at the article to read five common myths debunked from our interns. Do YOU want to be on the NASA team? Check out our website to learn more about the Artemis Generation and find information on eligibility and application steps.

When the Stars Align- Jorge Arturo Levario-Delagarza

NASA Intern Jorge Levario-Delagarza sitting in a mock shuttle cockpit.
Credits: Jorge Levario-Delagarza

My name is Jorge Arturo Levario-Delagarza and I am proudly from El Paso, Texas. To give a bit of insight about me, I lived in different parts of Mexico for few years as a toddler before my parents moved to Dallas, Texas where I grew up. Currently attend the University of Texas at Arlington majoring in Mechanical Engineering and minoring in Biomedical Engineering. 

Being the oldest child and first in my family to go through the United States school system has been a learning curve for my whole family. As a first-generation student, I have learned to adapt to the culture and environment of a new country growing up since my parents grew up in a different country in a different environment.  

Growing up, I remember my grandpa was a NASA enthusiast despite never having visited. My NASA concept as a kid was that NASA was a place where rocket scientists in lab coats and astronauts worked on top secret projects that went to outer space. I knew NASA was an awesome place, but even as a kid, I had a mental barrier that NASA was unattainable. 

My Background 

NASA Intern Jorge Levario-Delagarza working with industrial machinery.
Credits: Jorge Levario-Delagarza

My journey to a NASA internship has not been linear. I was not initially accepted into UT-Arlington and had to write a letter of appeal to be reconsidered. I started in the lowest level math class, college algebra, while working full time. After moving around between Uber driving and working as an undergraduate teaching assistant in the UT-Arlington College of Engineering, I went to a conference that changed my life, the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) National Conference in Phoenix. This conference opened my eyes and set off a lot of dominoes. 

After the conference, I became an active member in SHPE UT-Arlington chapter where I gained leadership experience serving as Community Outreach Director, Vice President, and eventually President. I currently serve 40+ SHPE chapters as a Vice Regional Student Representative. 

Through SHPE mentors, I knew I needed technical experience, so I trained my SOLIDWORKS skills to become a Certified SOLIDWORKS Associate in Mechanical Design. After reading “An Inside Account from Curiosity’s Chief Engineer”, I made a life changing decision to join the UT-Arlington ROVER Team. Committing all this time gave me the opportunity to eventually serve as Mechanical Arm Lead and even Chief Mechanical Officer. Most rewarding part was when we as a team qualified for the University ROVER Challenge (URC) for the first time in 4 years. UT-Arlington was one of 15 out of 88 teams worldwide to qualify for URC 2021.  

Getting to NASA 

NASA Intern Jorge Levario-Delagarza standing outside the Orion Capsule.
Credits: Jorge Levario-Delagarza

After this wild ride at URC, I got selected for my first ever internship at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control which only took me 200+ engineering internship rejections and 4 years in college to achieve. 6 months later, I saw an announcement posted on LinkedIn by a NASA mentor. I directly messaged him my resume and portfolio of the projects I had worked on during undergrad. After several interviews within a week, I got the call that I got a NASA internship while I was with my SHPE UT-Arlington group in Orlando, Florida. Sometimes, the stars really do align!  

Next Steps 

I plan on completing my education at UT-Arlington while supporting projects at NASA. My future goals are to eventually become a USAF test pilot, a US Navy Diver, attain a Masters or PhD in Mechanical Engineering, with the end goal to work on Artemis projects full-time at NASA. While my experience getting to NASA has definitely not been linear, there’s always an opportunity for those who persevere and get to work. 

Want to learn more about NASA internships or some of our amazing interns? Visit us online for the latest internship opportunities that are available to both high school and college students. Be sure to check out our guide on How You Can Prepare. Or, read more stories about our amazing interns at the NASA Internship blog. For more information on NASA internships or learn about other amazing NASA intern stories, visit us online at nasa.intern.gov. 

 Written by: Megan Hale

Women’s History Month: The Impact of Mentorship

Women’s History Month is a time to highlight and celebrate the extraordinary women whose legacies empower women today in the pursuit of their dreams. 

Sofia Williams is a fourth year biomedical engineering student at the University of Texas and a NASA engineering pathways intern at Johnson Space Center.
Photo Credits: NASA, Sofia Williams

It wasn’t always this easy for women to learn STEM and be respected in this field, so I am eternally grateful to the women that paved the way for me to have a career at NASA,” Fourth Year Biomedical Engineering student Sofia Williams said.

Williams views this month of remembrance as a time to not only highlight the trailblazing women from the past who broke ground for females at NASA, but also reflect on the women at NASA today who are tirelessly working to mold the next generation. Throughout her time at NASA, Williams has met countless women who have helped shape her own development. However, the woman who Williams admires the most at NASA is her internship mentor, Brandale McMahan. 

 “Brandale is in charge of leading the xEMU suit tests and is a highly critical part of verifying that our suits will be ready for our upcoming Artemis missions,” Williams said. “Every day that I worked with her, I was in awe of how she commanded the tests and led our team with ease and grace. She has always welcomed me at NASA and made me feel like my voice was heard and skills were valued. I hope to one day lead teams and advance projects like Brandale does.”

 NASA internships provide an avenue for students to learn from professionals in their chosen field and to gain confidence in their own abilities. One of the key elements of NASA internships is the practice of mentorship. Mentors challenge interns in their projects while offering them instruction, encouragement, and support throughout their NASA journeys.

Sofia Williams holding a Space Shuttle EVA (Extravehicular Activity) glove used by NASA on Campus. Photo Credits: Sofia Williams

“Brandale has significantly influenced my decision to pursue a career at NASA because she helped me to believe that I am capable of being successful here. I was unsure of whether I belonged or could keep up, but after the lessons she taught me and guidance she offered, I know that I will go on to achieve great things.”

 Mentors instill self-confidence in their interns by assuring them that their contributions, skills, and perspectives are worth sharing. They play a key role in overcoming imposter syndrome and helping students discover their passions. These inspiring female mentors are not only making history through their own careers and contributions, but molding the next generation of women at NASA by providing direction and encouragement to students.

Sofia in an ISS Airlock Vacuum Chamber. These vacuum chambers are used to certify the suits and other hardware for space.
Photo Credits: Sofia Williams

“Being a female at NASA during the Artemis era is empowering and inspirational. For the first time in history, we are planning to send women farther than they have ever gone, and women are a part of the process every step of the way,” Williams said. “It is so inspiring to see what women can do when they come together at NASA for a common goal, and I feel so grateful to be a part of it. Having the opportunity to be mentored by such incredible women and work alongside them on projects has been one of my favorite parts of my time on the Artemis spacesuit team. I know young girls and women from all across the world will be watching history unfold during the Artemis missions and feel empowered to set their goals to the moon as well.”

Written by: Megan Hale

 

Internships Celebrates Pi Day

Today we are taking Pi beyond the sky – stop by your nearest bakery or serve up a nice slice as we celebrate Pi Day! 

Every year, math enthusiasts around the country celebrate Pi Day on March 14 because the date 3/14 resembles 3.14 – the famous first few digits of pi. At NASA, we celebrate Pi Day every day using the number to explore space! 

The use of pi dates to Babylonians about 4,000 years ago, at which “3 times the square of the radius of the circle was used, which returned a value of pi = 3. Egyptian mathematicians approximated pi with a bit more precision at 3.1605, as indicated in the Rhind Papyrus, dating back to 1,650 B.C. 

The Greek mathematician Archimedes (287-212 B.C.) used a visually creative approach to approximate pi by using the areas of two polygons.”  In 1706, Welsh mathematician, William Jones, introduced the symbol for pi. 

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

On March 14 (or 3/14) in 1988, physicist Larry Shaw held what is believed to be the first official celebration of Pi at the San Francisco Exploratorium, which of course, included large amounts of pie. The idea quickly gained traction, and in 2009, the U.S. Congress ate up the idea, officially declaring March National Pi Day in hopes that it would cultivate a higher level of excitement for math and science in students. Pi’s bond with the circle makes it accessible for students of all ages. 

No matter the size of a circle, it could be a pie or a planet; it is always equal to pi. Pi is used to answer questions about anything circular. Pi is most often rounded to 3.14, but its digits go on forever and don’t appear to repeat. 

Fun Fact: Albert Einstein’s birthday and Pi day are celebrated on the same day. 

Do you want to celebrate Pi Day every day? The application deadline for summer internships is quickly approaching. Apply by March 18 at NASA Intern.  

Written by: Waryn Flavell 

 

Black History Month STEM Inspiration

Jackson State University, Lichelle Brown, currently interns with NASA’s Office of STEM Engagement
Photo Credit: Lichelle Brown

Stennis Space Center intern Lichelle Brown has always had her eyes on the sky. Growing up, Brown often visited NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, attended “space camps,” and even joined a robotics club. Through these experiences, her passion for science and exploration grew. However, her biggest inspiration and influence was George Washington Carver.

“George Washington Carver endured discrimination and racism throughout his entire career but he still persevered. He taught me that you have to work through the hard times even if you don’t get the credit you deserve,” Brown said.

Carver was an African American scientist and inventor whose work revolutionized the agriculture industry in the United States. Earning the nickname, “Plant Doctor,” Carver’s passion for the study of botany was evident from a young age. As the first African American to be awarded a Bachelor of Science degree, Carver continued his education and earned his Master’s Degree in agriculture science before accepting a position at Tuskegee Institute. As he revolutionized agriculture, Carver’s biggest contribution and success came from his research of the peanut. Although he is remembered as a pioneer of science, Carver’s passion was to help others and promote harmony.

Carver’s story and contributions inspired Brown’s passion and interest in the pursuit of STEM, which ultimately developed into her dream to work at NASA. As a Jackson State University student studying sociology, Brown is part of NASA’s Minority University Research and Education Project (MUREP) and is currently interning with NASA’s Office of STEM Engagement. By combining her interest in STEM and her passion to share it with others, Brown is already making history through her own life.

African American scientist and inventor, George Washington Carver has inspired many generations of students
Photo Credit: Frances Benjamin Johnston [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
“NASA has broadened my own perspective of life and science,” Lichelle Brown said. “I decided to become a sociologist to help others follow their life path. Through their inclusivity, they have shown me that there is a place for all parts of myself within NASA.”

Since starting her NASA journey, Lichelle Brown’s passions for innovation and exploration have only grown.

“NASA has made a place and an effort for people of color in the company,” Lichelle Brown said. “They work tirelessly to recruit HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) students and other minorities. NASA has shown that they value our presence within the workplace.”

Written By: Megan J. Hale

Black History Month Reflection from Jasmine Nelson

NASA intern Jasmine Nelson photographed in her workspace.
Credits: Jasmine Nelson

As Black History Month comes to an end, we will continue to celebrate every day African Americans’ accomplishments and contributions to science, education, and the impacts they have made on generations to come.

Jasmine Nelson, a senior at John Carroll University studying Computer Science and a Software Engineering intern at Glenn Research Center, felt the influences of those who paved the way.

“My African American STEM-inspiration is Katherine Johnson. Katherine, a Black woman, born in the United States, was regarded as a computer long before computers were conceived. Katherine Johnson taught me to not let my race or gender hold me back from opportunities. Katherine, however, defied the racial and gender limitations of the time and became the first woman to be acknowledged as an author on a study paper in the Flight Research Division. Despite practically everything and everyone in her life telling her that she couldn’t achieve what she wanted, she opted to follow her passion nonetheless.”

Growing up, Jasmine didn’t see many people in STEM that looked like her. The names of famous Black scientists or engineers, let alone Black girls, were few and far between. “If at least one little Black girl sees me and thinks, “If she can do it, so can I!” then I have fulfilled my goal in life.”

Jasmine wants to inspire the next generation of Black women to follow their dreams no matter what challenges they face. “As a Black woman, there will be moments when you are the only Black person in the room, the only woman in the room, or often both. You may feel as though the settings were not designed for you, but I want young Black girls to realize that they have a place in any location that they qualify for, regardless of what others say.”

NASA research mathematician Katherine Johnson is photographed at her desk at Langley Research Center in 1966.
Credits: NASA

Jasmine can be her biggest cheerleader and her worst adversary. “Being a minority and a woman, you constantly feel like you have to put in extra effort or prove yourself to others that you are ‘worthy’ of being in the position you are in, to earn respect. What I’ve learned over time is that despite whatever misgivings others or myself may have about me, I’ve earned my seat at the table.”

Through her life and legacy, Jasmine wants to serve as a role model and an example of what Black women can accomplish. “Don’t be afraid to apply for jobs and internships in STEM, even if you may not think you are qualified for it. We often already have all the skills we need to achieve our dreams; we simply don’t realize it.”

Written by: Waryn R. Flavell

Cognitive Communications: Strengthening NASA’s AI Presence in Space

Shilpa Kancharla working virtually from home during her Space Communications and Navigation Internship Project (SIP) position in the summer of 2021.

From self-driving cars to digital assistants, the future of technology development lies in the role that artificial intelligence (AI) will play to bridge the gap between human and machine. In a specialized area of this growing field, NASA currently is developing cutting-edge cognitive communications tools to utilize AI in space.

Cognitive communications research advances communication capabilities for missions by increasing the autonomy of links, networks, and service scheduling. A cognitive spacecraft can adapt to changing conditions by producing reasonable outcomes in scenarios that extend beyond the pre-programmed knowledge of its original inception.

The development of autonomous spacecraft is essential for NASA as the agency explores deeper areas of the universe than ever before. A cognitive spacecraft learns from previous data collected over time, in turn keeping up with NASA’s technological advancements, to transition toward a decentralized cognitive space communications system. As the system learns from itself with autonomous technologies, the spacecraft or engine can make advancements within itself based on what it learned without human intervention on the ground.

Shilpa Kancharla, a 2021 Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) intern at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, spent her summer working with mentors Dr. Charles Doxley and Dr. Rachel Dudukovich, engineers on the Cognitive Communications project, to create tutorials for the utilization of communications data in various AI systems.

The SCaN Intern Project (SIP) is a ten-week-long internship hosted by Glenn , NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. SIP allows students to gain hands-on experience working with interdisciplinary mentors on real NASA missions in specialized areas of space communications and navigation.

Kancharla, a master’s student at North Carolina State University, spent the summer analyzing various programming tools, specifically tools such as Nengo and Amazon SageMaker, to determine how to add the maximum amount of value to NASA’s existing AI architecture for space communications missions. The first tool Kancharla analyzed was Nengo, a tool that allows for neural network simulation on larger scales.

“Nengo is a Python package that contains functions and other code that help mimic the brain structure for higher processing tasks, like recognition and perception,” Shilpa said. “It’s a step up from other Python packages that are related to AI.”

Example of the code Shilpa created in Nengo for the Cognitive Communications project at NASA’s Glenn Research Center

This area of AI, or Cognitive, technology aims to mitigate the increasing communication complexity for mission users. By increasing the effectiveness of cognitive communications technology, NASA could create communications CubeSats with the ability to overcome obstacles, respond to and learn from their environments, and achieve beneficial goals to the completion of their primary missions with minimal to no human interaction, a large step from the existing navigations infrastructure.

The guide Shilpa worked on will instruct users in handling the Nengo programming tool, demonstrate how to create new sections of code, explain what each interface does, and review document variables—all while highlighting the largest benefits Nengo offers as an AI interface.

Shilpa analyzed the effectiveness of a second Python tool, SageMaker, as well.

“SageMaker allows you to develop, train, and deploy machine learning models with data you have in the cloud,” said Shilpa. “It’s not local to your computer; anyone who has access to it with the right credentials can see your work model.”

Python was Shilpa’s programming language of choice because it is the best language for AI and machine learning. The AI-related programming tools that Shilpa investigated will contribute to real NASA missions.

“I hope to compare the Python code that I write independently on my computer for a task to how SageMaker can automate it [for NASA],” Shilpa said. “We basically assess the accuracy of our [AI] model between the code I write and the accuracy that SageMaker obtains.”

Shilpa received an offer to return to NASA GRC SIP for a fall internship and will continue her project work virtually while earning her master’s degree in computer science at North Carolina State University.

Learn more about the NASA SCaN Internship Project here. Read more about NASA’s Cognitive Communication’s project here.

Shilpa Kancharla speaking with former NASA Astronaut Alvin Drew during her virtual 2021 GRC SIP internship.

By Bronson Christian

NASA Interns Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month

Guess what we are celebrating? Across the agency, NASA is proud to commemorate National Hispanic Heritage Month, the annual observance honoring the cultures and contributions of Hispanic and Latino Americans. At NASA, we celebrate the countless and enduring impacts Hispanics and Latinos have made at NASA and beyond. As scientists and engineers driving innovation and technology, entrepreneurs energizing our economy, advocates leading social and political change, and creatives bringing to life our arts and humanities, NASA recognizes the value of diversity and inclusion and the need for the continuation of change.

Hear from our current interns on their experiences as Hispanics at NASA and their advice to current and potential applicants.

Laura Paulino, Montclair State University

“Being Hispanic at NASA means working to ensure a voice and a place in the future for an underrepresented and underprivileged community. It means doing this with the joy, diversity, and good food that we share across our cultures.

I grew up in the most impoverished province in the Dominican Republic. I think about my privilege as someone who has been given the opportunity to break the cycle of poverty and trauma. Whenever I feel like I can’t do something, I think about all the people back home who were never given the options and opportunities that I have. When I can’t face my fears for myself, then I do it for them. Our decisions are so much bigger than ourselves,” Paulino said.

Laura Paulino interns with NASA Ames Research Center and studies at Montclair State University as a graduate student. She encourages the Artemis Generation to stay inspired knowing that their work will save the planet.

Yesenia Sanchez, Columbia University

“Diversity in ideas and how to approach problems is what is most valuable. This allows us to solve problems differently and value ideas that diverge from our own but work towards a greater good. Representation can only get us so far, what we need is to be listening and working with each other.

I especially want to advise non-STEM students to take a shot at an internship. NASA is so much more than just engineers; it is also historians and archivists working hard to preserve NASA’s legacy. This has been one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned as an intern. I also say to keep trying and not be disappointed if your first time applying is not successful,” Sanchez said.

Yesenia Sanchez interns with the history team at NASA Headquarters. She studies International and World History at the London School of Economics at Columbia University.

Andrea Lastra, University of Houston

“It’s incredible to think that just 12 years ago, a 9-year-old me came into this country without knowing English and not knowing exactly what she wanted to do when she ‘grew up’.  After years of constant hard work, setbacks, and dreaming about the future, I finally made it to NASA! I am proud and happy to be an Engineer, to be a NASA Intern, and most importantly, to be Hispanic,” Lastra said.

Andrea Lasta interns at the NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center and studies mechanical engineering at the University of Houston. She wants potential applicants to know that interning at NASA is attainable. Once you get over the hurdle of not feeling good enough, anything you set your mind to is possible.

Gabriel A. Colon Sanchez,  University of Puerto Rico

“Being Hispanic at NASA shows how diverse the world is. It proves that we are all part of a bigger community where we encourage each other to become better people. It feels amazing to represent my country and my people in such great experiences.

For students like me who saw this as a dream, believe in yourself and work hard. Join clubs and participate in whatever activities you can! Every experience moves us forward in our careers. Try to become a leader in your community and inspire others,” Colon Sanchez said.

Colon Sanchez interns at NASA Stennis Space Center and studies software engineering at the University of Puerto Rico.

Mia Belle Frothingham, Harvard University                         

“It means getting to be exactly who I am with my colleagues and being able to include my culture and values through my work and contribution at NASA. I love meeting other Hispanic co-workers; it reminds me to celebrate what makes us and our community beautiful!

Never give up. It takes immense determination and dedication to achieve big things in life, failures or rejections should never put you down. Pursue what you love, find your passion and follow it,” Frothingham said.

Mia Belle Frothingham interns at NASA Headquarters and studies biology at Harvard University.

Cindy Valdez, Los Angeles City College

“Don’t let fear, judgment, lack of representation, or lack of support stop you from following your passions and dreams. Get involved in competitions and professional organizations to narrow down your major concentration and career path.

Don’t ignore opportunities to work in a group, as this will expose you to the soft skills that are often overlooked: interacting with different personalities, leveraging talent, learning from other perspectives, negotiating, or resolving differences.

There is no set formula that you can emulate to obtain an internship at NASA. Take the route less traveled and start believing in yourself; soon both your path and new opportunities will unfold. There is no need to chase a NASA internship. It will come to you,” Valdez said.

Cindy Valdez interns at NASA Ames Research Center and studies aerospace engineering at the Los Angeles City College.

No matter where you come from or what you are studying, you too can reach for the stars.  Spring internship applications open the first day of October, apply at intern.nasa.gov. If you’re looking for more information on Hispanic Heritage Month, check out the NASA page.

Waryn R. Flavell

Claire A. O’Shea