Milestones

My road in life has been direct.
When I was young, my parents immigrated from Colombia to Argentina, then again to Pasadena.
Even as a child in Argentina, I loved to go onto my roof and look at the points of light in the sky.
I ended up writing a letter addressed only to "NASA"; it made its way there and they wrote back!
NASA sent me back some Apollo 11 paraphernalia; that crystalized my interest in space exploration.
But in school, I wasn't encouraged to go into the sciences; only boys could go to technical schools.
When we eventually moved to America, my first question was, "Dónde está NASA?"
Luckily, my Pasadena high school gave me the opportunity to intern at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab.
Now, over 35 years later, I'm still working for NASA. Anything is possible!
Keep following my journey

Career

Lead Program Executive, New Frontiers Mission

I oversee three missions under the New Frontiers program: to Pluto, Jupiter, and Bennu.

Career Roadmap

Roadmap
My work combines:
My work combines:
Science
Engineering
Being Creative

Day to Day

As a leader on the New Frontiers program, I'm overseeing three missions to Pluto, Jupiter, and to an asteroid named 101955 Bennu, so it's a long day. At around 5:00 or 5:30 a.m. I'm already checking my emails and identifying critical items that need to be done. A big part of my job involves ensuring proper communication between people and teams, and making sure we're on budget. Almost everything NASA does is something no one's ever done before, so we have to be very creative every single day.

Advice for Getting Started

Here's the first step for middle school students

When you're young, you're not going to know which path you want to follow. So first, you need to get to know yourself. How can you do that? Go volunteer somewhere! See if you can help out or shadow people in a variety of careers and fields, and see what really catches your eye. You have that inner guide that will tell you which way to go, and will tell you, "You can do this"—that's the voice that you need to follow. I once heard Carl Sagan say, "dreams are maps." Follow those maps.

Recommended Education

My career is related to what I studied. I'd recommend the path I took:

Hurdles

The Noise I Shed

From Society in General:

"A woman from South America isn't going make it at NASA."

Challenges I Overcame

First-Generation Immigrant
Being a woman in science

Interviewed By

Anonymous Student