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. With the help of generous mentors, I became the executive director of Time in Cosmology and created a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.
Coming from an underrepresented group myself, I had benefited as a young girl from outreach programs. I wanted to give back and share the same passions. I had lofty goals: I wasn’t sure they were achievable. I am proud to say that we accomplished them. We developed a successful outreach program that mentors Native American girls in stem, and offers the opportunity to attend an educational week at Space Camp in Alabama. For most of the girls it’s their first time on an airplane, and their first time being so far away from their family. It’s thrilling to watch their growth in one week. They’ll have their own unique challenges ahead, and when I look at their eager faces, I am reminded of my determined childhood self.