Think about what you wanted to do when you were nine. Are you still doing it? Does the concept that you might not be fulfilling your childhood dream maybe depress you a little bit?
Ok, that got a little bit deep, but let’s introduce you to someone who actually is getting to do that thing she’s wanted to do since she was a little kid – and excelling at it.
Jessica Watkins, who considers Lafayette, Colorado her hometown, has wanted to be an astronaut since she was nine.
She was recently selected to join NASA’s 2017 astronaut class.
“I think the word ‘humbled’ and ‘honored’ are the words that come to mind,” Watkins said.
She attended Fairview High School in Boulder, and majored in geological and environmental sciences at Stanford University. She received a doctorate in geology from UCLA.
Watkins has also worked at NASA’s Ames Research Center and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and was a collaborator on the Curiosity rover.
An after-school enrichment program helped her realize that she wanted to be an astronaut, and now, she’s excited about the opportunity to go to the International Space Station –and the possibility of expanding the human presence in the solar system.
“There are lots exciting opportunities,” she said.
Watkins was one of 12 astronauts, and one of two from Colorado, selected out of a pool of 18,300 applicants. She’ll spend the next two years in training (some of that even includes learning Russian!) – and after that, could find herself on a variety of missions.
“It’s really a victory for everybody that helped me get here,” Watkins said.
Watkins initially went to college to study mechanical engineering. She knew she wanted to be an astronaut, and thought that was the best path.
But, after realizing that wasn’t the career for her, she switched to geology. And then, she started studying Mars – a topic of her post-doctoral work at Cal-Tech.
“I certainly wouldn’t be here with the opportunities I’ve been given and the continually support of my family, friends and colleagues,” Watkins said.