Many people immigrate to the United States in search of a better life and more opportunities, including Diana Trujillo. He grew up in Cali, Colombia, and had a great interest in science and outer space from an early age. Little did she know how far those dreams would take her decades later.
She changed her vision of having a scientific career with POT in a reality. She works as an aerospace engineer, leading a team of 45 people at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. There, his team worked on creating the robotic arm for the Perseverance Mars rover.
As a child growing up in Colombia, Diana wanted to explore the universe and understand it better. This fascination led her to take a great leap of faith to achieve her dreams.
He knew he wanted to pursue a scientific career, but he saw many obstacles in his way. As a Latina woman in a male-dominated field, Diana wasn’t sure how far she could advance in her career. However, his dad thought that being able to speak a second language would give him an advantage. She became his biggest cheerleader and suggested that she live with her aunt in Miami while she went to school.
So, he decided to emigrate to the United States at the age of 17 to pursue a scientific career. She only had $ 300 in her pocket. But he promised to be successful in his new country. She took cleaning jobs to pay for her studies at Miami Dade College. There he took English classes and also enrolled in aerospace engineering courses.
While he had to struggle at school, sometimes taking six buses to get to class, he never complained. Despite having to clean bathrooms for her work, she was grateful for the opportunity to achieve her dreams.
Diana persevered to become the first Hispanic woman at the NASA Academy
“I saw everything that was presented to me as an opportunity,” Diana said. CBS News. “I didn’t see it as: ‘I can’t believe I’m doing this job at night, or’ I can’t believe I’m cleaning a bathroom right now. ‘ It was more like, ‘I’m glad I have a job and I can buy food and have a house to sleep in …’ ”.
However, he had another reason for wanting to immigrate to the United States to study science. She was also motivated to become an aerospace engineer to prove some of her family wrong.
“I wanted me, especially the men in my own family, to recognize that women add value,” he said, adding, “it came from wanting to show them that we are important.”
When he got to college, however, he had a different motivation to succeed. The day she had to declare her major at the University of Florida, she remembered that she didn’t know what to choose. Then when Diana got to the dean, she looked at the cover of a magazine with female astronauts. At that very moment, he knew he wanted to pursue aerospace engineering.
She also noticed that almost no Hispanic students or women aligned with her. In that moment, he remembered a part of why he decided to enroll in college in the first place.
Diana continued her studies, specializing in space science at MDC. Her professors recognized her efforts and encouraged her to apply to the prestigious NASA Academy. She was enthusiastically embraced by the training program and she became the first Hispanic immigrant woman in the academy. She excelled and was offered a full-time job by NASA along with another student from the academy.
Diana defied the odds of working for NASA, but she has a bigger mission in mind.
While enrolled in the NASA Academy, Diana met robot expert Brian Roberts. He immediately saw his potential and asked him to join his NASA space robotics research department at the University of Maryland. There, he earned a BA in Aerospace Engineering and graduated in 2007.
“When I moved to the University of Maryland, I was a year behind in my career, but it was worth it because I managed to get into NASA’s education department as the Academy’s operations manager,” he told the Colombian newspaper El Tiempo.
Later that year, he became a member of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in the Constellation program. He also began working at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory on human and robotic space missions. Since being hired at NASA, Diana worked her way up to becoming a Mars Rover flight director.
He achieved a career milestone in 2014 when he led the Curiosity Rover’s operational safety team. During this mission, he developed a dust removal tool to help scientists better explore The surface of Mars. This important achievement earned her recognition as one of the 20 most influential Latinos in the technology industry. Since then, Diana has only continued to set the bar higher.
When the Mars Perseverance rover landed on Mars last month, Diana provided commentary on the historic event. This marked NASA’s first Spanish-language broadcast. After that, Diana hosted NASA’s first Spanish-language broadcast called Together we persevere (Together we persevere). Since it went live last month, it has earned 2.5 million views in Youtube.
Final thoughts: Diana became NASA’s first Latina immigrant and hopes to inspire other women
Since deciding to immigrate to the United States, Diana has accomplished a lot. According to the Student Research Foundation, Hispanics represent only 8% of the STEM workforce, of which 2% are women. Diana continues to encourage women, especially minorities, to pursue their dreams, regardless of their origin. She believes that increased visibility of minorities in STEM will inspire more children to pursue careers in this field.
“The grandmothers, moms or dads, uncles, the cousins, as if everyone had to see this, and they also had to see a woman there. So they can turn to the younger generation and say, ‘she can do it, you can do it.’
Diana still dreams of one day being an astronaut and conducting space missions. However, right now, her mission is to encourage more women to pursue careers in science and engineering.