12-Year-Old Black Girl Who Just Graduated From High School Has Her Sights On Working At NASA
By 16, she expects to graduate and immediately land a job with the space agency.
March 17, 2021 at 8:56 pm
A child prodigy from Arizona, who just recently graduated high school at the age of 12, has set her goals on joining NASA as an engineer.
After passing her classes while being homeschooled and graduating high school when children her age are advancing through middle school, Alena Wicker has decided to continue her education at Arizona State University to help her prepare for a future in space science.
Daphne McQuarter, the 12-year-old’s mom, told Arizona-based news station KPNX that her gifted daughter has had her sights set on space exploration since she was a toddler.
"At 4 years old she said 'I'm going to work at NASA and I'm going to go up there,' she would point to the stars," McQuarter said.
Wicker developed a passion for building at a young age, constructing structures from Lego sets as an infant, her mother shared.
"I always liked dreamed of being an engineer because throughout my life I liked building," Wicker said. “I’m kind of a nerd for the NASA-sized Legos.”
In college, McQuarter said Wicker plans to double major in astronomical and planetary science and chemistry. By the age of 16, Wicker hopes to graduate college and immediately land a position with NASA.
“I’ll be driving one of those future space mobiles by the time I graduate college,” she said.
The young student aims to build rovers like Carnegie Mellon’s MoonRanger, which has recently passed its preliminary design review in preparation for a mission to the moon to search for signs of water, per a university release.
“It doesn’t matter what your age or what you’re planning to do,” Wicker said. “Go for it, dream, then accomplish it.
When she’s not excelling in the classroom, Wicker is working to grow her online brand through her Facebook page BrownStemGirl. According to KPNX, she said she plans to launch a podcast covering her experience as a Black girl in science.
As Blavity previously reported, 12-year-old genius Caleb Anderson is also using his gifts for space science. The young student is wrapping up his second year of college at Chattahoochee Technical College in Marietta, Georgia, where he majors in aerospace engineering.
At the age of two, Anderson had mastered sign language and was able to read the United States Constitution. A year later, he was fluent in Spanish, French and Mandarin.
By the age of five, the extraordinary preteen joined MENSA, the organization that recognizes people who have the top IQ in the world. The opportunity made him the youngest Black boy to be honored with the recognition.
His mother, Claire, said that more Black boys like Caleb could reach their full potential if they had the support and resources to excel.
“I think people have a negative perspective when it comes to African American boys. There are many other Calebs out there. African American boys like him,” she said. “From being a teacher, I really believe that. But they don’t have the opportunity or the resources.”
She also advised other parents raising exceptionally gifted children to focus on building character, teach children to appreciate other people's gifts and to remember they are always the best parent, and support system, for their child.