How I Became a NASA Student Ambassador
By Aida Yoguely Cortés-Peña
March 21, 2013
Today I have the opportunity to share my passion and engage students in the STEM field as part of the 2013 NASA Student Ambassador Virtual Community (NSAVC). I recall in the 11th grade when I was part of the NASA INSPIRE On-Line Community. I made new friends with similar interests, some of which have I crossed-paths in my career at my University and while working at the NASA Space Centers. In the presentation chat rooms, I got to meet and ask questions to current experts and education specialists, some of whom I still work with today. The NSAVC is similar except you get to be the one teaching and sharing with others. This is a nation-wide community of 100 high-performing interns selected to help NASA inspire the STEM workforce of the future and the next generation of explorers. As members of this virtual community, we also get to interact with NASA personnel, share information, make vital professional connections, collaborate with peers, and represent NASA in a variety of venues. Through this program, I am continuously learning how to make effective presentations, public speaking, and event coordination.
Competition is fierce, and becoming a NASA Student Ambassador is a great honor. To qualify, one must first have two basic things: be pursuing a degree in the STEM discipline, and secondly but not surprisingly, have good grades! The only way to apply is to be nominated by his/her mentor during the NASA internship experience. Last summer I interned at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, up in Greenbelt, Maryland, under the NASA Motivating Undergraduates in Science and Technology (MUST) program. I got to work at the Materials Science and Engineering Branch on the Non-Destructive Evaluation of Materials from Space Flight Hardware. I used an Infrared Camera to located and analyze defects from satellite parts such as the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) satellite. I enjoyed sharing my project with others through on-site activities such as the Intern Open Mic event, and online through blogging and YouTube videos. My mentor was impressed by my passion for inspiring others that he nominated me to become a NASA Student Ambassador.
As a NASA Student Ambassador, I am actively seeking ways to outreach to the community. One way is through connections with various student organizations on campus. I volunteer at college fairs such as AT&T High Tech Day and spoke to 20+ high school students about college, internships and the field of engineering. Every other week, I tutor K-12 Hispanic students in science and mathematics at La Amistad Outreach Center. I also had the opportunity of speaking at the Office of Hispanic Initiatives & Communities in Schools College Access Conference where I presented “What is STEM?”, and spoke about NASA opportunities to 8th grade minority students. I will always be grateful for those whose invaluable guidance and support has helped me in my career. I hope to also inspire and impact my community, by helping others discover their passion in NASA and the exciting field of STEM.
What is Leadership?
"Leadership is about empathy. It is about having the ability to relate and to connect with people for the purpose of inspiring and empowering their lives." - Oprah Winfrey
The NASA Students Ambassador Virtual Community allows students to make vital professional connections, interact and collaborate with your peers, prepare to enter the STEM workforce, represent NASA in a variety of venues, and help NASA inspire and engage future interns.