How Do We Best Serve Our Native American Girls? It Takes a Village

It Takes a Village

Oh my what a year it has been! Under all of the anxiety that filled the air, as always there was hope, charity, and civility.

We’re committed to our mission and the community we serve. We therefore partnered and helped launch a 14 week on-line Summer coding program for 9 – 12 year old Native American girls. The program ended in October, with an international UNICEF hackathon. Seven outstanding girls were selected and received a scholarship to Space Camp 2021.

Starting January, the seven girls will be trained to prepare for Space Camp in three key areas – STEM education, team mentoring, and Native American Storytelling with different First Nations. Taking Up Space director Czarina Salido will lead the mentoring sessions, professionals will take charge of the STEAM lessons, and Indigenous community members will lead the storytelling including one girl’s Ojibway Grandfather and another girl’s Dine’ mother. 

The first Native American astronaut, John Herrington, will lead a class, as will NASA astronaut Nicole Stott, Director of STEMAZing DaNel Hogan, and Order of the White Rose winner – Brielle Thorsen. We are so grateful to them for giving their time.

Believing in yourself is powerful. Some say it’s where grit and grace come from. Listening to Native American storytellers will develop a stronger sense of self and a deeper understanding of Tribal Nation teachings and values.

In order to dream big, we must know what kinds of opportunities are out there for us. By bringing in a village of experts, our Native American girls can see the possibilities, and dream beyond those boundaries.

Our Mentors

John Harrington

When astronaut John Herrington made his voyage to space aboard Space Shuttle Endeavour’s STS-113 mission, he became the first Native American in space. An enrolled member of the Chickasaw Nation, Herrington carried its flag on his 13-day trip to space, as well as several personal items with him. Among those items was this traditional flute. Source:

Nicole Stott

Nicole joined NASA at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC), Florida, in 1988 as an Operations Engineer in the Orbiter Processing Facility (OPF). In April 2006 she was a crewmember on the NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO 9) mission, where she lived and worked with a six-person crew on the longest duration NEEMO mission to date – 18 days on the Aquarius undersea research habitat. Source:

Brielle Thorsen

Brielle Thorsen is a 22-year-old graduate student who is currently attending Queen’s University and is working towards her master’s degree in mechanical engineering. No small feat. To add to her many accomplishments, yesterday (Thursday, December 3), she was awarded the Order of the White Rose scholarship. It is a $30,000 scholarship that was created to honour the memory of the 14 women along with the survivors of the Ecole Polytechnique massacre in Montreal 31 years ago. Source:

Czarina Salido

I remember, when I was 8 years old, feeling that I couldn’t do the same things that boys did. I couldn’t be as good in math and science. I found it unsettling, and that began my road of being an “unconscious rebel.” As a Hispanic female growing up in Tucson I had to be a fighter to overcome numerous negative assumptions and obstacles, but the challenges helped me develop a greater sense of purpose. By the time I made it to college, my love of philosophy and science had become so strong that I knew that nothing would stop me from pursuing a career in either. Source:

Image courtesy of John Herrington, Nicole Stott & Polytechnique Montréal

The 2021 Space Campers!

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