Note from Oscar: Mia DiLorenzo is the first of what I hope will be a series of guest writers. She is a good friend of mine and also a total space fanatic like me (but to be honest, she’s even more of a space nerd). She decided to interview Astronaut Abby, a young (very young) woman trying to be the first person to Mars. Now please, welcome the first ever guest writer to That is Great!
By Mia DiLorenzo
I am a huge space nerd. I love everything about it. It is so exciting to think of the unknown and what else could be out there. With the recent discovery of seven new planets, space is even more present in our society. My love for space has led me to a very great person, Astronaut Abby. I recently got to meet her at a Planets at the Pub event. She is a smart and engaging person who I look up to. Currently attending Wellesley College in Massachusetts, Abby, 19, is aiming to be the first person on Mars. She already has a long list of accomplishments: named as one of Huffington Post’s 20 Under 20 in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) invited as a special guest to the Soyuz launch in Russia, and served as Astronaut Luca Parmitano’s Earth Liaison, along with many other great things. I asked her a few questions about her journey toward the stars.
Have you always wanted to be an astronaut?
Not always… just since I was about 5 years old. Pretty much as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be an astronaut. The great thing about this career is that it’s not mutually exclusive to other careers though—I can be a scientist AND an astronaut.
What are your next steps to becoming an astronaut?
Education! Right now I am focusing on my undergraduate degree—a double major in Astrobiology and Russian. After that I will go on to obtain a doctorate degree in Astrobiology. I am also currently training for my pilot license, training in telescope astronomy operation, training in SCUBA diving, and training to run a marathon.
What interests you about space?
Everything! If I had to choose one thing that interests me about space, I would say that it’s the idea of the unknown. There is so much out there that we haven’t discovered. Anything you can imagine could be out there!
Who inspired you to get into STEM?
I was inspired into STEM (an interdisciplinary approach to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) by a combination of science fiction and really great science teachers. I had one teacher in particular, Ms. Hill, who I look back on as being pivotal in continuing my interest in STEM.
What advice do you have for other kids who want to pursue a STEM-related career?
Have fun! STEM subjects are difficult—a STEM career will involve a lot of time studying, reading, and working hard. Sometimes it can be boring, tedious, and hard! But it is so worth it! There is so much cool and interesting stuff that you can do using STEM! Whether it’s building robots, making explosions, playing with sound waves, or something else, STEM is full of crazy fun stuff! Understanding how and why it all works makes it ten times better. Even when your studies get hard, don’t forget to have fun.
How has social media helped you with your journey?
Social media has allowed me to share my journey towards becoming an astronaut with hundreds of thousands of people around the world! In doing so, I can both give others the experiences that I am having, and receive the encouragement to make the impossible possible.
What do you think is great?
Space! Dancing, painting, exploring, looking at the stars, playing music, laughing, the Stargate Universe, and Babylon 5.
Thank you so much, Abby. We wish you great luck on your path towards Mars!