She’s Starting College at Age 12, With Plans to Be a NASA Engineer
Over the course of the pandemic, the education landscape has changed dramatically, but that hasn’t stopped a brilliant girl whose dreams have never been tied to the earth from reaching for the stars.
While most tweens are facing the challenges of high school, at age 12, Alena Analeigh has already earned her high school diploma and is scheduled to attend Arizona State University through remote learning in May.
With a planned dual major in astronomical / planetary science and chemistry, Alena’s goal is to become a NASA engineer when she is 16, where she hopes to use her extraordinary skills to build rovers like those sent to Mars on missions.
“I’ll be driving one of those future space mobiles when I graduate from college,” he said. ABC News.
A heady goal, perhaps, but according to Alena’s mother Daphne McQuarter, her daughter had already set her sights on a career in the space agency as a child.
“She always said, ‘Mommy, I’m going to work for NASA,'” McQuarter said. Good morning america. “Then she would start to say, ‘I’m going to be the youngest black girl to work for NASA, look!'”
Alena’s space odyssey began with her early passion for Lego construction toys, from which she built intricate models of everything from the Taj Mahal, Disney Castle, and the Millennium Falcon, to the Apollo 11 rover and a NASA rocket.
Designing things and bringing her visions to life is at the core of what makes this genius tick, but her astute scientific mind has led Alena to be a keen observer in other facets of life as well.
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Seeing the disparity in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) opportunities for women and people of color, Alena also wanted to become an engine for social change.
With the help and encouragement of her mother, Alena launched the Brown stem girl website to encourage other girls with similar interests to focus on fields from which they have historically been excluded.
Along with her college curriculum, Alena has several projects in the works: one, a children’s book that she plans to title Brainiac World (putting a positive spin on the nickname kids used to tease her with), and a STEM-focused podcast, for which she hopes to land an interview with space pioneer Dr. Mae Jemison.
It’s an impressive list of accomplishments, but more than anything else, Alena hopes to set an example for other girls so that they don’t let other people’s preconceived notions keep them from defining their own destinies.
“It doesn’t matter what your age is or what you’re planning to do,” he told ABC. “Go ahead, dream, then get it.”
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While no specific announcements have been made, NASA has already reached out to the 12-year-old Texas wunderkind. We assume that Alena’s future will be out of this world.
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