Parents always tell their children to dream big, and a 12-year-old girl from Arizona is taking that to heart. Alena Wicker is set to attend Arizona State University this summer. Her goal? To land a job at NASA as an engineer by the age of 16.
While that may sound like an impossible feat, Alena is not your ordinary youngster—she’s a prodigy with a level of intelligence that only many of us can dream of.
“I just had a goal I wanted to get to,” the pre-teen explained to 11Alive. “I always dreamed of being an engineer because throughout my life I liked the building.”
Alena said she discovered her passion while playing with LEGOS, admitting that she’s “kind of a nerd for the NASA-sized LEGOS.”
Her mother, Daphne McQuarter, knew early on that her daughter was gifted. At 4 years old, the kid already had a crystal clear vision of who she wanted to become.
Little Alena told her then, “Mommy, I’m going to work for NASA, and I’m going to go up there.”
“She would point to the stars,” Daphne recalled. “She just had a gift for numbers and Legos and science, so I started nurturing that gift.”
Alena graduated from high school this year after acing all her homeschool classes. This summer, she will be walking down the halls of Arizona State University as she starts her classes at the institution.
Alena will exceed expectations once more—as she has all her life—with plans of double majoring in astronomical and planetary science and chemistry.
If everything goes as planned, Alena will graduate from Arizona State University at 16 and work for NASA that same year. Her goal is to build rovers, like the one that landed on Mars on February 18, 2021, as part of the Perseverance mission.
“I’ll be driving in one of those future space mobiles by the time that I graduate college,” she said.
The rover made the 292.5 million-mile journey from the Earth to the Jezero Crater, a region believed to contain signs of ancient life.
Perseverance will be searching the surface of Mars for evidence of ancient microbial life, and the samples gathered will be brought back to Earth for study.
Alena shares her journey through Facebook and Instagram, where she refers to herself as the “Brown STEM Girl.” In a recent update to welcome her new followers, she wrote: “”I’m just a girl who loves STEM, obsessed with NASA and Legos and I love Hoodies, Big Bows, and pizza.”
The young genius also plans to launch a podcast and a website to inspire more girls to pursue their dreams.
Her current website, called Brown Stem Girl, also accepts donations that will help send a girl of color to college.
“We aim to engage, empower and educate. It is our hope that girls are motivated to become all they desire to be in the world,” the website reads.
Alena is the type of person with a strong drive to achieve her goals. She’s fearless, and she won’t let anything get in the way of her reaching her dreams. So if you feel like you’re stuck in life right now, you might want to take this girl’s advice:
“I’m just planning it all as I go. It doesn’t matter what your age or what you’re planning to do. Go for it, dream, then accomplish it,” she said.
No one could have said it better. Good luck on your journey to college, Alena! We are all rooting for you.
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