Get to know the NASA engineer from Peru, Aracely Quispe. As it turns out, her title of Space Operations Lead Engineer for NASA isn’t her only impressive accomplishment.
Since 2011, Aracely Quispe has been a team member of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, otherwise known as NASA. Currently, as Space Operations Lead Engineer, Aracely leads other engineers and keeps communication smooth between spacecraft engineers, NASA mission operation managers, sub matter experts, and console operations staff. Kind of a big deal. And her personal story is just as impressive. Take a look at these five facts about the NASA engineer from Peru:
1. Grew up without electricity
The humble background of this now successful scientist makes Aracely seem like the modern day Cinderella (no Prince Charming necessary). Aracely recalls growing up in Marripón, a rural district in northern Peru’s Lambayeque region, as ‘fun’ and ‘unique.’ Without electricity, her family relied on kerosene lamps or, quite fittingly considering her profession, moonlight for illumination.
“I remember those [times[ with a lot of love,” comments the engineer. “I tell myself, ‘Wow, you made it past all of this.'”
2. Has a black belt in karate
Years before she graduated from CaptTechU (Capital Technology University in Maryland) with a Master’s Degree in Astronautical Engineering, this brainy scientist proved she has brawn. At what would have been considered a high school age in the US (secundaria, in Peru), Aracely saw a posting for a scholarship to study karate for three months. A few years—and various regional and international tournaments later—she reached black belt status. It was because of this sport that she was able to visit the US for the first time.
3. Neil Armstrong was her inspiration
At the tender age of 6, Aracely watched a retransmission of the revolutionary moment of Neil Armstrong walking on the moon in 1969.
“It was shocking to see that humans could go beyond the frontier,” Aracely commented to BBC Mundo. “With time it became clear that this was something of real interest to me and that I should study science.”
4. Obtained US residency before learning English
Aracely is living proof that you can achieve anything if you put your mind to it—especially if you have extraordinary abilities.
Alien of Extraordinary Abilities (EB-1A) is an immigration classification that grants permanent US residency to those demonstrating “a level of expertise indicating that the individual is one of that small percentage who have risen to the very top of the field of endeavor.” After an arduous fight to prove her academic and athletic achievements, Aracely gained her residency. Afterwards, she spent over a year diligently studying English before furthering her education in the Space Technology and Engineering program at the Prince George Community College in Maryland.
5. Aims to motivate young women
In her conferences titled, “Breaking the Paradigm of ‘I Can’t,'” Aracely shares her personal story of overcoming economic and cultural limitations. With these talks she hopes to motivate other women to join the field of science—you know, just something to do in her free time.
“It’s important to talk about science [so] that people don’t see it as something unattainable,” notes the inspirational professional.