SeriesLIVE

Katya Echazarreta: The First Mexican Woman in Space

Astronaut's Daughter
Why was Katya chosen to go to space? Was it because her Mexican mom lit a candle? Feel the chills.
Show transcript
00:16
See.
00:17
Hi, Kat.
00:18
Thank you so much for being on astronauts daughter on this
00:21
podcast.
00:22
I'd love for you to take some time and introduce yourself.
00:25
Let people know a little bit about you and where they can find
00:28
you on social media.
00:29
Absolutely.
00:29
My name is Kat.
00:30
I am an electrical engineer.
00:32
I've been obsessed with all things, space engineering, uh
00:36
science, physics since I was little and it was my dream to work
00:42
at NASA.
00:43
So I actually spent almost four years at nasa's Jet propulsion
00:47
lab.
00:47
I worked on some awesome missions.
00:49
My favorite is actually Europa Clipper, which is an orbiter
00:52
that's going to go to investigate Jupiter's moon Europa.
00:56
Growing up, I was really obsessed with a show called Cosmos
01:00
by Carl Sagan.
01:01
Um And so I became really passionate about science communication
01:05
I wanted to do what he was doing.
01:08
So that's also part of the reason why I decided to start trying
01:12
to pursue on screen opportunities with science communication
01:17
Um So I'm also Electric Cat on the show Mission Unstoppable
01:21
which is hosted by Marda Cost.
01:23
That is so cool.
01:24
I've actually seen so many of those episodes and they're so
01:28
so cool.
01:29
Where can people find you on social media?
01:30
So they can see that show.
01:32
Um Are you also making tiktok and posting on youtube?
01:37
I know you have some videos on there as well.
01:39
So yeah, I do everything.
01:40
I'm on Instagram, tiktok, Twitter, youtube.
01:44
And you can all find me at Catt, but I also have a tiktok account
01:49
that is all in Spanish, 100% in Spanish and that one is Catt
01:53
dot Mx.
01:54
That's so awesome.
01:55
I love how you have both so that you're reaching other people
01:59
and who are also only Spanish speakers.
02:02
So that's really great.
02:03
Yeah, it's really important for me to be able to connect with
02:06
the Spanish speaking community because I know that for a lot
02:11
of them, some of these things like NASA and the space industry
02:15
they don't really exist in their own countries.
02:18
So being able to open up those doors and just create a little
02:23
bit more visibility for those people who are interested in
02:26
That is really important.
02:27
That's awesome.
02:28
Yeah, you're already such a great role model to so many, many
02:30
people in both countries.
02:32
I do want to talk a little bit about your recent, amazing, very
02:36
exciting news.
02:37
You're going to space.
02:39
I'm going to just talk about that for a second because that
02:43
well, not for a second, we can spend as much time as I want.
02:46
But that's amazing.
02:47
Can we just start from the very beginning?
02:49
Like you've always been fascinated by space.
02:51
But how did you even come across this opportunity and become
02:55
selected to go to space in a short amount of time?
02:59
You're going very soon in this moment in time.
03:02
She's going next week.
03:04
So that's amazing.
03:06
How did it all happen?
03:08
It was all back in 2019 when this started, I saw an application
03:16
that was going to be closing that same day and it was for an organization
03:21
called Space For Humanity.
03:23
And essentially from their website, what I was able to gather
03:27
is that they wanted to send people to space to experience the
03:32
overview effect, which is essentially a shift that occurs
03:36
when an individual is able to look at our planet from the outside
03:42
and it changes something in them and it makes them want to come
03:47
back down to earth as humanitarians and they're just ready
03:51
to create change.
03:54
So that was their goal in their mission.
03:57
But back in 2019, they didn't really know when the technology
04:03
would become available to do that.
04:05
I also knew that at the time, it wasn't really a thing I decided
04:10
to apply anyway.
04:12
And the biggest reason why I decided to do that is because I
04:17
didn't want to years down the road once this or if, because
04:22
I didn't know I didn't know when it was going to happen or when
04:26
now or 10 years, whether it happened, I didn't want to think
04:32
back at this moment.
04:33
And remember that I had the opportunity to apply and that I
04:36
didn't do it.
04:37
So that was my number one reason I wasn't really thinking,
04:41
um, you know, like, oh, well, I, I think I'll go to, like, I think
04:44
they'll choose me.
04:45
That wasn't really what my thought was.
04:47
I just didn't want to miss out on that kick myself later on,
04:51
you know.
04:52
So I think it was a couple of years later and they opened up applications
04:57
again and it was really interesting to see that because part
05:01
of me was like, hold on.
05:03
Do we even have a vehicle?
05:05
Like, what is going on?
05:07
Uh But again, they had actually selected me already as a semifinalist
05:12
but I didn't really know what that even meant.
05:14
The only thing I was thinking was, well, they liked my original
05:17
application enough.
05:19
I'm thinking there's probably thousands of semifinalists
05:23
and I guess I'll just try again and I'll just tell them what
05:27
I've been up to.
05:28
So as a semifinalist, you have to reapply or continue applying
05:33
to be selected as the finalist.
05:36
But still, at this point, there were still no permanent plans
05:40
for anything.
05:41
So, still very up in the air, right?
05:43
So I'm still here just applying for something that's, you
05:47
know, in my eyes, kind of like, but that's so validating to
05:51
even be selected as a semifinal, like, oh, ok.
05:54
This could go somewhere.
05:55
Yeah, exactly.
05:56
So, I, you know, I was thinking OK, they liked me so far.
06:00
So let me try a little harder on this second application.
06:04
Primarily what they were asking was they wanted to know what
06:09
it was that I was passionate about when it comes to social change
06:13
And for me that is promoting STEM to women and minorities,
06:20
I'm really passionate about that.
06:22
Oftentimes you hear a lot of people say that the reason why
06:25
there aren't more women or minorities in STEM is because they're
06:29
not interested because they don't like it.
06:31
They choose to study something else.
06:33
But I know that the truth is that all of this, it starts at childhood
06:37
when we're being discouraged and we're being told that it's
06:42
not for us and we're being told that, you know, we should just
06:47
focus on something else and that's when it starts.
06:49
And that's when you start seeing a lot of young girls who did
06:53
have that interest in stem start to slowly grow out of it.
06:58
So that's what I'm really, really passionate about and it's
07:01
what I wrote about in my application.
07:03
But again, I mean, that was, uh, I believe maybe in 2020 or 2021
07:09
I don't even remember because it was so long ago.
07:11
And a few weeks ago, I get an email on a random Monday saying
07:18
congratulations, you are a finalist and we want to do an interview
07:24
So I didn't know what being a finalist meant or what the interview
07:28
process.
07:29
I had no idea what this even was.
07:32
How do you prepare for something like that?
07:34
Like, oh, my gosh, I'm going to go into a room with probably
07:37
a panel of people judging me whether or not I'd be a good candidate
07:41
for.
07:43
What?
07:43
Like, we don't even know that is the end goal.
07:46
So I can't even imagine what was going through your head and
07:49
like, how you were going to prepare, you know, the worst part
07:52
is I had food poisoning.
07:54
Oh, no.
07:55
So I had food poisoning, the Monday that they emailed me and
07:59
they wanted to schedule like an informational interview
08:03
not the official interview, but just an informational one
08:06
for the following day.
08:08
And I remember I had, I was actually in bed all day that day.
08:11
I could not get out of bed and I scheduled it for the following
08:14
day and I got up, I did the informational interview.
08:18
I tried my hardest to look like I was ok.
08:22
Um But I, I just went right back to bed after that because I knew
08:26
that the interview was the following day.
08:28
But during that informational interview, I asked them, you
08:31
know, what does this mean?
08:32
Like, what, what does being a finalist mean?
08:34
How many people are finalists?
08:36
And I thought she was going to say 1000 a couple 100.
08:40
I don't know.
08:41
And she said you're in the top five and I was just like, you're
08:47
kidding?
08:48
Ok.
08:49
Thank you.
08:49
So much, very informative.
08:52
Thank you.
08:53
Um And I remember I just like ran downstairs to my husband because
08:58
I mean, I had told him about this, but like, you know, he also
09:00
just had no idea what was going on and I just walk in there and
09:03
I just stared at him and I was like, the weirdest thing just
09:06
happened to me.
09:07
And I remember he was like cooking rice and like putting the
09:11
fork in to see if it was ready.
09:13
And you know, he just like picked up the the fork and it was full
09:15
of rice and he's just like what I like um I'm one of five to possibly
09:22
go to space and I just like have that image in my head just like
09:25
him with the fork with rice.
09:27
Like how do you respond to that?
09:29
Like, oh OK, I'm just making rice here but like like the most
09:35
normal thing ever and the most not normal thing ever put together
09:40
So it just made it so real.
09:42
And you're right, how do you prepare for that?
09:45
Um So I called my mom obviously and it was the cutest thing ever
09:49
because my mom right away, she was like, OK, I'm going to light
09:53
a candle for you and it's going to be burning the entire time
09:57
until your interview.
09:59
And that is some shit that moms just do.
10:03
They're like super superstitious, they're just like anything
10:06
I can do to bring you good luck.
10:08
Good fortune.
10:08
I'm going to do.
10:09
That's what I'm like.
10:11
My part is going to be so, that's so funny and I love it so nice
10:14
of her.
10:15
She was like, I believe in you, but I'm going to light a candle
10:18
just in case.
10:19
And if you get it, it's because I lit a candle.
10:22
But, you know, the funniest part about the candle is that so
10:26
I already know that she loves to do that and I'll call her and
10:29
I'll tell her sometimes, you know, I'll be like light the candles
10:32
for me, you know, like I want this really bad.
10:34
Um But that day of the interview, I was in Mexico with my mom
10:41
and the power went out.
10:43
So we had no internet, we had no power.
10:46
I'm freaking out already because this is a chance to go to space
10:50
and there's no power.
10:52
Um My data is limited in Mexico and so like it slows down.
10:56
I had already used all of it because I didn't know.
11:00
And so I'm just over here freaking out.
11:02
Um And eventually it comes back right before the interview
11:06
and I'm over here just sweating.
11:08
My hands are, are just so clammy.
11:12
I am shaking.
11:13
I actually took a video where it's my hand like in front of my
11:17
computer and it's just like shaking.
11:20
I could not stop and I just started pacing and I just, I was just
11:24
like, what did you do?
11:26
The interview?
11:26
Started.
11:27
It went really, really well.
11:30
Like I remember I just, I gave it everything I had.
11:34
And after the interview I was, I was just in so much, like I felt
11:40
so much peace knowing that I had given it everything I had.
11:46
And I remember telling my family afterward that if it didn't
11:51
happen for me, I still felt at peace because I knew that I had
11:56
done everything I could.
11:58
But the funniest part which takes me back to the candle is that
12:03
as soon as I signed out of the zoom the candle, like it finished
12:10
up and it like finally turned off and she had turned it on the
12:14
second that I told her about it.
12:16
So we saw that and she was like, you got it.
12:21
And I was like, she already knew before you even got the news
12:26
She was like, I checked the candle set.
12:27
She was like, look at it.
12:29
It's all burnt up and it was, it was like completely gone.
12:32
There was no more candle inside.
12:33
She was like, that means you got it.
12:35
And I was just like, I'm going to choose to believe you because
12:39
I have nothing else right now.
12:40
So let's just sure the candle, the candle is gone.
12:45
Um And then I believe it was that same, it might have been that
12:51
same night where you found out that you went.
12:54
No, I got an email from you and it said that they wanted to do
12:59
a second interview that they were having a really hard time
13:03
choosing the candidate.
13:04
That's a good problem to have.
13:06
And I thought in my head it was ok.
13:11
I don't think they would offer the second interview to all
13:14
five.
13:15
Like, it's probably in the top two or three.
13:19
like, there's like, it's, it's gotta be.
13:21
Yeah.
13:22
And, but then I messaged my mom and I was like, ok, look, I know
13:27
this trick.
13:28
What if they're just saying that because they want to surprise
13:32
me because obviously you don't tell someone they're going
13:35
to space over an email, right?
13:39
Oh my gosh, I wouldn't have thought that if you are so smart
13:42
Yeah.
13:42
And so my mom is like, that's what's happening.
13:45
You're right.
13:45
That is exactly what's happening.
13:47
Like she was, she was, oh my gosh the whole time I'm on the edge
13:50
of my seat because that is so sneaky of them.
13:54
So let's make her think like it's another interview.
13:57
We haven't made up our mind yet and then tell her, is that what
14:00
ended up happening?
14:02
That is exactly what happened.
14:03
But they played it off really well because I get on the call
14:08
and it wasn't the Panelist that had interviewed me.
14:12
So in that moment, I'm like, um ok, so it's the executive Director
14:18
of Space for Humanity and the person who had been coordinating
14:22
all these interviews for me, like this is very suspicious
14:26
but then they told me, you know, well, the panelists couldn't
14:30
be here because they had other commitments.
14:33
So we're going to record this for them.
14:35
And I was like, there you go.
14:38
Like, I was like, I think they're about to tell me, but then
14:42
they started off as if it was an interview and they asked me
14:46
questions.
14:46
I stop.
14:47
So, so you're like, oh, dang it.
14:50
I really thought I was like, I really thought this was going
14:53
to be it.
14:54
So I'm over here like, all right, let's do this again.
14:56
I answer the question and then that's when the executive director
15:00
uh starts up again and I thought she was going to ask another
15:04
question and then she starts saying this moment is something
15:08
I've been looking forward to since we started space for humanity
15:13
the moment where we get to tell the individual for the first
15:17
time that they're heading to space.
15:19
And I mean, at this point, they had already like put my guard
15:22
down.
15:22
I really thought it was an interview.
15:24
So I'm over here like, yeah, that's going to be really nice
15:26
That's gonna be really great for you.
15:28
I'm so happy.
15:29
I'm really excited for you to get to experience that.
15:31
Like I'm just like, yeah, and then she says, and this is that
15:35
moment and if you look at the video because they recorded my
15:38
reaction, like my eyebrows just go like, yeah, you're like
15:45
I'm sorry, what?
15:46
And I think I was like stop classic reaction and then I just
15:53
started bawling like I started crying.
15:55
Yeah, that's like such a huge thing to be told when you were
15:59
seven.
16:00
You always wanted to work for NASA.
16:01
That was your goal.
16:02
Did you ever think that?
16:04
Oh, I might go to space one day?
16:05
Yeah.
16:06
So actually my original dream when it came to NASA was to be
16:11
an astronaut.
16:12
OK.
16:13
I've always wanted to go to space.
16:15
My mom and I, and it's just one of those memories are just so
16:18
vivid.
16:19
Like you can remember where you are.
16:20
You can remember everything we're standing.
16:23
Uh We're in, in TJ.
16:25
Um We lived there before we moved to the US and we're standing
16:29
by a bus stop and I remember I was just kind of looking up at the
16:32
guy and we're just waiting and I look over at her and I say, um
16:38
mind you, I'm like 67 years old.
16:40
And I say, what's the hardest job somebody can have or like
16:43
the hardest thing someone can do.
16:45
And she said, well, based on what you like and, and who you are
16:50
I would say probably like an astronaut.
16:52
And I remember, I just said, OK, I'll do that then.
16:57
And you're like, bet.
17:01
So that's kind of the energy that she instilled in me.
17:04
And I mean, you can see it just from her reaction to all of this
17:07
where I've always believed in you and I believed it too because
17:12
she believed it.
17:13
So, it's always been something where if I want to do something
17:18
I know that me believing I can is enough.
17:24
So it's definitely always been a huge dream of mine and it's
17:29
I, I always knew I would, I always knew I would go to space one
17:33
way or another, but I just thought it would be when I'm, like
17:36
60 years old and commercial technology is like, way advanced
17:41
and we're taking rockets, like we take airplanes.
17:43
Like that's what I thought.
17:44
Yeah.
17:44
But, well, I think that's what's really cool about your situation
17:49
and your future experiences, right?
17:52
Like you're a young Latina woman and it's happening now because
17:57
you had this crazy opportunity.
17:59
You know, I think when we think of astronauts, we think, oh
18:01
it, it has to be with NASA.
18:03
That's the only way that we're going up into space.
18:06
And then here you are like, ok, I'm not 60 years old going to
18:10
space all.
18:11
You know, like it's our day to day like mode of transportation
18:15
I think it's really cool.
18:16
And I think you being such a strong role model for people who
18:20
also, you know, young women and girls who, who want to go to
18:23
space and want to do that.
18:25
I wanted to ask you like leading up to your education and going
18:29
into your background, like you started in electrical engineering
18:32
what was your experience going into that?
18:35
Did you ever feel discouraged or did you always have that mindset
18:39
of like, oh, I believe myself.
18:41
So, I know I'm going to get there.
18:42
I know I'm going to do it.
18:44
I decided to go to community college because I didn't have
18:46
any money to attend a four year.
18:48
And that was a very difficult choice for me because I was a really
18:52
good student in high school.
18:54
I had gotten accepted to colleges for engineering so I was
18:58
set, but I didn't want to take out loans.
19:01
I didn't want to get into debt.
19:03
Um It was also a really difficult time because my parents were
19:06
going through a divorce at that time and my mom had never worked
19:11
Um she well her entire life, she had just taken care of all of
19:16
us and in that moment she was left with nothing, no house, no
19:21
car.
19:22
Um I was technically the oldest sibling.
19:25
I was the only anyone with a job.
19:27
I was working at mcdonald's.
19:28
And so it was a difficult choice of.
19:31
Do I go off to college on my own?
19:34
Try to figure it out somehow or do I stay here?
19:39
Help out my family?
19:40
Make sure that they're set, make sure they're ok, make sure
19:43
that my mom learns how to take care of herself and then go off
19:49
it and do my thing.
19:50
So that's why I decided to go to community college.
19:52
The single best choice I have made in my entire life because
19:58
not only was I able to help my family uh get stable financially
20:04
and mentally and emotionally.
20:06
I was able to make sure that my siblings were able to continue
20:10
on after me.
20:11
Um I was able to start essentially living my life the way I wanted
20:17
to while still taking care of my family.
20:20
Um And I think that choosing that, choosing family first is
20:29
what was able to help me continue on with everything else.
20:34
Well, I think that's really great that you were able to put
20:38
your family first, but also keep in the back seat of like, OK
20:43
I still have these goals and I still see a lot for myself.
20:47
I'm not going to give up on myself.
20:49
So let me just take care of what I need to take care of while simultaneously
20:53
going to school.
20:53
There's nothing wrong with going to community college.
20:56
You know, it's a different path.
20:58
Everyone has a different one, but you were able to kind of do
21:02
it all.
21:03
Take care of your family then.
21:05
OK.
21:06
Now it's my turn.
21:07
What can I do for myself?
21:08
And you got all of these amazing scholarships you thrived
21:11
in school?
21:12
Was there ever a moment where you felt like, oh, I'm really
21:17
struggling like I don't know if I can, you know, really do it
21:21
all because you had your family in mind.
21:24
And then also engineering is not an easy major, it's not an
21:28
easy path.
21:28
So did you ever find yourself struggling or did it really come
21:33
natural to you?
21:34
Yeah.
21:34
No, not natural at all.
21:38
I've had to work really hard.
21:39
I think my time at community college, although I loved it very
21:43
very much, it was very difficult for me because I was sometimes
21:48
working multiple jobs at the same time to try to, you know,
21:52
pay the bills, pay the rent, keep my family afloat.
21:55
Um, like I mentioned, I was working at mcdonald's, I was a dog
21:59
walker.
21:59
I was a homework grader.
22:01
I was a t a like any job that anyone could throw at me and I would
22:06
just do it to try to um to stay afloat.
22:09
And then I was able to also get a, it was a community service
22:13
scholarship which was really cool because I got $300 every
22:17
month.
22:18
Um in exchange for doing, I can't remember how many hours,
22:21
but it was a certain amount of hours at the local science museum
22:24
Oh, no way.
22:25
Yeah.
22:26
So that was really awesome.
22:27
I was able to do something I wanted to do and then get paid for
22:32
it.
22:32
And I remember those $300 like to me, like they were just the
22:37
biggest lifesaver.
22:38
I mean, UCL A, it's like, it's really competitive, it's really
22:42
hard to get into.
22:43
I think it's the most applied to university in the country
22:47
Um And I was admitted in the top, the top 1.5% of all applicants
22:52
for my year.
22:53
So again, I'm thinking like, oh, like I'm, you know, so I had
22:59
no reason to believe what was about to happen.
23:02
And that was really difficult for me to, for one, leave my family
23:08
for the first time.
23:09
Even though it's just San Diego to L A, like, still, still a
23:12
change, it's still out.
23:14
Yeah.
23:16
Um, but during that first seme the quarter, actually it's
23:19
in the quarter system.
23:21
It was so hard for me because first of all, I was used to semesters
23:27
in quarters are 10 weeks plus and it's way more condensed right
23:32
at fast pace, difficult material.
23:35
So often times you're learning the same, the same amount of
23:39
stuff that someone would learn in maybe like three quarters
23:42
of a semester or a whole semester.
23:45
But in one quarter, just 10 weeks, I was on the semester system
23:48
in college and my sister went to UC Santa Barbara.
23:52
And so to see the difference in terms of the amount of course
23:56
work that she got versus what I got.
23:58
It all seemed the same but very compressed.
24:01
So I saw her struggle like way more than I did and I genuinely
24:05
think it was based on the system, the schooling.
24:08
So I totally understand that.
24:10
And I mean, you're used to that your whole life on the semester
24:13
and then you get thrown into something like this on top of it
24:17
already being hard enough as it is now.
24:19
It's fast paced.
24:20
Now, you're dealing with leaving home for the first time,
24:25
living in a new city by yourself for the first time.
24:28
It's a lot.
24:28
L A is very overwhelming to a San Diego girl.
24:33
And I remember that one of those midterms, I scored the lowest
24:37
out of everyone in a classroom of hundreds of people.
24:41
And that was devastating for me.
24:43
How did you pick yourself up after that?
24:46
I would just be like, all right, I'm out, I'm gonna head out
24:49
like that.
24:50
It is daunting.
24:52
It was really hard.
24:53
It was one of the darkest times in my life academically because
24:59
how do you rationalize something like this going through
25:03
you know, 1920 years of your life thinking like, ok, I'm smart
25:08
like I do well in school.
25:10
This is my thing.
25:11
It's my thing to be a good student.
25:14
And now this just happened.
25:18
So what, what do you do?
25:21
And I remember I was, went to my dorm room and I immediately
25:29
just like started crying, but I felt so embarrassed as well
25:33
It was humiliating and I didn't know who to talk to because
25:39
at this, you know, I was humiliated.
25:40
I didn't want to tell anyone about this.
25:43
It was really, really embarrassing to have to, to say this
25:47
to anyone, but I needed to talk to someone because I didn't
25:50
know what to do.
25:52
I, did you go to, did you have, you know your go to person or did
25:56
you have, you know, friends also struggling or what?
26:01
Yeah.
26:02
So I, I had a friend during college.
26:05
She is also a Latina.
26:06
She actually just graduated from US C with her master's degree
26:09
as the only Latina to graduate from, from US C in the, from the
26:14
electrical engineering department with her master's degree
26:19
Shout out.
26:21
So we were taking different classes and I did feel like I could
26:25
talk to her and she was definitely my comfort throughout this
26:28
entire degree.
26:30
But at the same time, I think I was also battling with a lot of
26:35
pressures.
26:37
Um At the time, I would picture it kind of like a monster on my
26:42
shoulders that I was carrying with me everywhere and it was
26:47
really heavy and it was with me all the time.
26:50
And this monster essentially just from thinking about what
26:56
it really was, was that pressure that I was carrying from and
27:03
obviously not on purpose, but like from my family as the first
27:07
one to go off to college um from my scholarship because I, I
27:12
was on a scholarship and I needed a particular GPA in order
27:15
to keep it.
27:17
And I also felt like I had the pressure of just being a Latina
27:23
in general because there were not many at all in my classes
27:27
and I could feel their judgment, I could feel that they didn't
27:31
think I was smart enough.
27:33
Um Sometimes they explicitly told me that they didn't think
27:37
that I belong there.
27:38
Um There were multiple students who would, you know, to my
27:43
face say that they did not want to partner up with me for projects
27:46
or for labs.
27:48
So you're also dealing with knowing that the way that you perform
27:53
is going to impact what they think of the future Latina that
27:58
comes around.
27:59
Who wants to be an engineer.
28:00
A lot of pressure, it was a lot of pressure and I knew that that
28:06
pressure was what was affecting me the most and it was preventing
28:10
me from succeeding.
28:12
But when I really thought about it, this is what I wanted to
28:16
do.
28:17
I really wanted to be an engineer.
28:19
I really wanted to study electronics.
28:22
I really wanted to be at NAS A and yeah, I wanted to give up and
28:28
I wanted to do something else.
28:29
There's been a total of three times where I almost switched
28:32
my major, but like seriously, like I had the paperwork filled
28:37
out and ready, but for one reason or another, I didn't do it
28:41
And this was one of those moments where I just decided, OK,
28:47
so you want to do this, you know, there's nothing else that
28:50
you want to do.
28:52
So what are we gonna do about it because you're not going to
28:56
make it if you continue like this.
28:59
And that's when I had to realize that I had a lot to unpack, primarily
29:04
getting that monster off my back.
29:06
I started treating, taking care of my body the way I was treating
29:11
doing my homework.
29:12
So, as a priority in scheduling it into, to my agenda and I decided
29:19
no matter what happens, um except for like the night before
29:23
finals because like, you know, you can't really do too much
29:26
about that, but no matter what, I was going to get eight hours
29:29
of sleep, no matter what if I wasn't done with my homework yet
29:33
I wasn't done with my homework, but I was going to go to sleep
29:36
And what started happening is that I was able to finish everything
29:41
so much faster.
29:42
When I was studying, I was getting it and I actually needed
29:47
to study less because I was taking care of myself and that was
29:53
sleeping eight hours.
29:54
It was making sure that I was eating because that was another
29:57
thing I would tell myself.
29:59
No, I don't have time for that.
30:00
I'm just going to eat a bag of hot Cheetos and that's it.
30:03
Like we need food, that's energy.
30:06
There are so many unhappy habits that are normalized and it's
30:10
like, ok, maybe we shouldn't be doing that.
30:13
Maybe we should have a full breakfast, vegetable out of a hot
30:19
Cheeto for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
30:23
But that's what changed everything.
30:24
And I'm not kidding when I tell you that.
30:26
So my first, my first quarter GPA I think it was like a 2.8 and
30:32
towards my last few quarters, I was constantly at a, like 3.8
30:37
So the only thing I changed is I started taking care of myself
30:41
and when I was doing the work I was able to actually function
30:46
Do you have any other tips for people who may be feeling like
30:52
they don't have a in school where they can go to, um, when they're
30:58
struggling because I know, you know, you, you had your friend
31:01
you had someone that you could talk to, but you talked a lot
31:04
about the embarrassment of feeling like, oh, I don't want
31:09
anyone to know that I'm struggling because I have so much to
31:13
prove.
31:14
Where did you find that community?
31:16
How did you get past that part of like the embarrassment?
31:20
I think that question is actually one of my biggest regrets
31:24
during college, which is that I, for the most part kept to myself
31:29
I had a very, very, very small group of friends.
31:33
Um But as I went on during my time at UCLA, I realized, especially
31:40
during some of the more difficult upper division classes
31:43
that I couldn't do it alone.
31:45
And I was seeing a lot of my classmates that they had their study
31:48
groups and they were working together and that's how they
31:50
were getting through.
31:51
And one of the reasons why it was so hard for me is because I didn't
31:54
have that.
31:55
So I actually, I'm a really shy and introverted person, believe
32:00
it or not, but I decided that I was going to start just talking
32:06
to someone whoever looked nice.
32:09
Um, usually other girls in the classroom and what I found is
32:14
that they were so welcoming and inviting and it was one of those
32:18
things where as soon as I said, um, you know, like nice to meet
32:22
you.
32:23
I'm, I would love to maybe study together sometime.
32:27
They would immediately welcome me in and, you know, by the
32:31
next day we're already studying together.
32:34
But that was something I didn't do until my very last few quarters
32:38
and it was so much easier and it got me through so well during
32:44
those last few quarters that I just wish I'd had the courage
32:47
to do that sooner.
32:49
Did that also help you, um, like seeking out that community
32:52
and reaching out, I mean, you did it towards your later half
32:55
but going into the workplace.
32:57
Do you do that now as a professional or when you were working
33:01
at NAS A to make friends with other women in the office or, you
33:06
know, network in other ways?
33:08
Yes.
33:09
So I think one of the biggest reasons why I was able to do so well
33:12
at NASA is that I was actually always going out of my way to talk
33:17
to people.
33:18
Um, if there were any engineers that were doing something
33:21
that I was interested in, I would make sure that they knew that
33:24
I was interested in what they were working on.
33:26
And if they had any projects in the future that maybe they were
33:29
too busy for or whatever it may be that was available.
33:33
So, while I was an intern that worked out for me very well, they
33:35
kept coming back to me and kept giving me more projects particularly
33:39
because I expressed my interest.
33:42
Um And even today, I think it's kind of funny because I'm a grad
33:46
student and it's online so it's hard to meet people.
33:48
You're not in a classroom.
33:50
And what my professors sometimes do is they have us introduce
33:53
ourselves in the discussion, like in a little chat forum and
33:58
I'll read those and I'll kind of try to see who I have the most
34:01
in common with.
34:02
And I'll shoot him an email and I'll say, hey, I'm in your class
34:05
This is who I am.
34:06
Do you want to like, give me your information so we can study
34:10
together?
34:10
And again, they always say yes.
34:13
And that's just what I continue to do.
34:16
Yeah, I think what inspires me the most about all of this work
34:19
that I've been doing is reading the messages.
34:22
I continue to get me from people who tell me that I inspired
34:27
them to apply to NASA, that they never felt like they were good
34:32
enough and had never thought to even apply.
34:36
Well, they applied, I coached them through their interview
34:39
and now they're engineers at NASA.
34:42
So it's that change that we can actually see and it's an impact
34:49
that I can, you know, physically see that I am making.
34:53
That allows me to just have that motivation to continue.
34:57
And I love that you're not gatekeeping any of this information
35:01
It's like, OK, these are the tools that worked for me.
35:04
I want to share that because it doesn't help me by keeping it
35:09
to myself.
35:10
I want to see my community grow and achieve amazing things
35:15
and it's so easy to sit here and be like, I'm better than everyone
35:18
else.
35:18
I've accomplished so much.
35:19
I'm going to keep it to myself and not share the wealth.
35:22
But I think you do a really good job of being like, no, like it's
35:25
my job and my duty to share it with people.
35:29
So that way they can also succeed in life.
35:31
I think I like to look at it as I'm just a very natural big sister
35:37
So I'm a big sister to my siblings and that's the role that I
35:41
wanted to take on for everyone else who doesn't have that big
35:45
sister to look up to and doesn't have someone who's been through
35:49
it.
35:50
Because I think personally for me, my role as a big sister with
35:54
my own siblings is I'm going through all of this because I don't
35:59
want you to have to go through it alone.
36:02
And that is exactly the energy that I want and try to recreate
36:07
with my work that I don't, I don't think in the way of, well,
36:13
I went through all of that, so you should have to.
36:16
Right.
36:16
No, I went through all of this so I'm going to make sure you don't
36:22
have to.
36:22
And that is exactly what I'm trying to accomplish.
36:25
And unfortunately there are people like that who are like
36:28
I struggled.
36:29
So you have to struggle too.
36:30
But I think that is the wrong mindset.
36:32
You're such a great role model.
36:34
I mean, you're accomplishing so much.
36:35
I mean, you're going to space literally like next week, like
36:39
I'd say, get me a souvenir, but that's like you're literally
36:41
just going to patch.
36:43
Yeah.
36:43
So me patch.
36:44
That would be awesome.
36:45
We have it in the, in the studio.
36:47
Um But is there any like, I don't know, just like looking back
36:51
on your like seven year old self, like when you had all of these
36:54
really big dreams and now they're like coming to fruition
36:57
Like, is there anything that you would like, tell your younger
37:02
self that, you know, with all the knowledge and all the things
37:06
that you're accomplishing now?
37:07
Like, what would you tell your seven year old self or someone
37:10
who maybe is in that position and like has really big aspirations
37:15
I think the biggest thing that I would tell anyone and even
37:20
little me are my mom's words to me always, which is um I remember
37:29
one time my sister, she, I think she called me stupid and I started
37:36
crying and crying and crying.
37:38
And I ran to my mom and I'm bawling and then she said, what is
37:41
happening?
37:42
What's wrong?
37:43
And I said, uh, my sister called me stupid and I was just like
37:47
so upset and she said, well, are you stupid?
37:51
And I said no.
37:53
And she said, then why are you crying?
37:56
And that just has stuck with me ever since.
38:00
And it applies to everything as long as you yourself know who
38:06
you are, know what you want and know your worth and your value
38:12
anything, anyone else says it doesn't matter.
38:17
So that's what I always try to remember, especially now being
38:21
um a little bit more of a public figure.
38:24
And naturally you get a lot of messages, a lot of comments.
38:28
It's really important for me to always just stay true to what
38:32
I believe and who I believe I am and who I know I am.
38:37
I love that.
38:39
Are you like so excited for space?
38:42
I just like I let's talk about that just like a little bit before
38:45
we wrap things up.
38:47
Like, what is that?
38:48
What is the next week look like for you?
38:50
I mean, I don't know that process in this um in this experience
38:55
So like I want to, I want to learn more.
38:58
I've been really, really busy right now with a lot of interviews
39:02
right?
39:02
You had a full media day today.
39:04
So I so appreciate you coming on this podcast.
39:07
You had like, what, four interviews before that?
39:09
I think I had 60 my God, six.
39:12
So I so appreciate you.
39:14
I woke up at 4 30 this morning, superstar.
39:17
I think I had seven or eight yesterday.
39:20
I can't remember.
39:22
So it's, it's been a lot.
39:24
I think when I first found out and I couldn't tell anyone it
39:28
was really overwhelming for me because I didn't know what
39:31
was about to happen.
39:33
I didn't know what to expect.
39:36
I kind of figured that there would be some sort of a media storm
39:40
particularly me being the you being the first Mexican born
39:46
woman to go to space and especially in Mexico.
39:49
So I kind of had an idea but you never really can guess what's
39:54
going to happen if it ever cared for it.
39:56
You know, like in my head, it was, well, like are people going
39:59
to care?
39:59
Like, is anyone going to care?
40:01
I don't know.
40:03
Um But they cared.
40:06
My mom sent me a screenshot yesterday.
40:08
I was trending in Mexico.
40:10
I was like in the top 10 of searches like my full name, which
40:14
was the weirdest thing ever.
40:15
I was above Amber heard, you know, you made it when you're above
40:21
Amberger.
40:22
But um yeah, so it's been a lot of interviews and then I have
40:25
my training next week leading up to the launch, which has just
40:29
been announced a couple of hours ago that it will be on May 20th
40:33
So it is coming up.
40:35
Where is your training?
40:37
Where in Texas, Texas?
40:38
And you're launching in Texas?
40:41
Yeah, Van Horn, Texas.
40:43
So I'll be heading that way pretty soon and I'm just so excited
40:48
I'm so excited for you.
40:50
I mean, I'm, I, I mean, just being a part of the community as
40:53
well.
40:53
I'm so proud to see a fellow Latina succeeding and being so
40:59
you know, it's also nice meeting you because you're so nice
41:02
and so caring and like kind and, you know, we get along so well
41:06
and I'm just so excited for you and everything to come.
41:09
Do you kind of know what's going to happen after you go to space
41:14
Like what's next, what's on the horizon?
41:18
Like, do you have any idea?
41:19
Not really because again, it just like I couldn't have predicted
41:22
what was going to happen before.
41:25
I don't really know what will happen after.
41:28
I'm guessing people are going to want to know.
41:31
OK.
41:32
So I'm trying to be another round of interviews and press and
41:38
articles.
41:39
So I'm kind of just trying my best to stay rested because it's
41:45
really tiring and really overwhelming.
41:47
But also I'm sure as you know, being in this space, um you have
41:52
to bring a certain level of energy to every single one and when
41:56
they're back to back in that way, you kind of just end your day
42:00
just like, like nobody talks to me, nobody look at me like I
42:05
wouldn't I want to just, I totally get that.
42:09
Well, I'm so excited for you.
42:11
I mean, I think it's going to be amazing.
42:13
It's, I mean, that's going to be dare I say, out of this world
42:16
experience.
42:18
Um, but I really look forward to hearing all of your interviews
42:22
and, and everything that you do afterwards.
42:25
So I hope we stay in touch and I'm really excited and that you
42:29
came onto this podcast again.
42:31
Thank you considering your full media day.
42:35
Um, but I'm, I'm so grateful that you are here and I'm so glad
42:39
that we got this chance.
42:40
Thank you so much.
42:41
And it was so, so nice to meet you.
42:42
I think we're friends now.
42:44
Yes, of course.
42:45
Yes.
42:45
No other option.
42:46
I already told you, I just email people and tell them they're
42:49
my study buddies.
42:49
So we love it.
42:50
We are now friends.
42:51
We're friends.
42:51
We're more than friends.
42:52
You can text me.
42:53
Oh, we're on that level.
42:55
Cool.
42:55
I think we're on that level.