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This Lady Became The Leader Of NASA Mars Rover Team After Immigrating To The US With $300

Every day, more and more people across the globe immigrate to the United States in search of better employment opportunities and living standards. Diana Trujillo, a science and outer space enthusiast from Cali, Colombia is also one of them. Back then, she had no idea how far his dreams to work with NASA would take her. Fast forward to a few decades later, today, she’s an aerospace engineer at NASA. Trujillo leads a team of 45 at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab. Along with her team, she worked on creating the robotic arm for the Perseverance Mars rover.

As a child, Trujillo was very much interested in exploring and understanding the universe. Her love towards the universe is what inspired her to take the first step to achieve her goals. Although she longed to pursue a science career, she saw lots of obstacles in her path. She wasn’t sure about how to move forward in her career, as it’s a highly male-dominated field. It was her father who encouraged her to live in Miami with her aunt while schooling. This was because he believed that speaking a second language would benefit his daughter.

Diana Trujillo
Source – NASA on The Commons, No restrictions, via Wikimedia Commons

As a result, Trujillo immigrated to the USA at the age of 17, with $300 in her pocket. While taking up housekeeping jobs to pay for her tuition, she schooled at Miami Dade College. Here, she studied English and Aerospace Engineering. Although she was faced with countless challenges, she worked towards her goals with determination.

Diana Trujillo Becomes The First Hispanic Woman At NASA Academy

In an interview with CBS News, Trujillo stated that she considered every situation she was faced with as an opportunity. Apart from studying and pursuing a career in science, she had one more reason to immigrate to the States. She wanted to prove to the males of her family that women matter, and that they add value.

Her drive and determination took a different path when she graduated college. She had no idea what to choose when she declared her major at the University of Florida. When she met with the dean, Trujillo came across a magazine cover featuring female astronauts. This was the moment she decided to pursue aerospace engineering. She then continued her education, majoring in space science at MDC. With the encouragement of her professors, she applied to the NASA Academy, which eagerly accepted her. This is how Trujillo became the first Hispanic woman at the prestigious NASA Academy.

Trujillo Has A Bigger And Greater Mission In Mind

At the NASA Academy, Trujillo got to know Brian Roberts, a robots expert. Recognizing her potential at once, Roberts invited Trujillo to join his robotics research department at the University of Maryland. In 2007, Trujillo graduated with a Bachelor of Aerospace Engineering from the University of Maryland. Although this set her a year behind in her career, it was definitely a worthy investment. Following it, she was able to join the education department at NASA as the operations manager of the Academy.

Later in 2007, she was able to get a membership at the Goddard Space Flight Center at NASA, in the constellation program. She also joined NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and eventually became the Flight Director for the Mars Rover. In 2014, she became the leader of the operational safety team for the Curiosity Rover. This was one of the biggest milestones in her career. As part of this mission, Trujillo made a noteworthy development. This was a dust removal tool that really helped scientists when exploring Mars. Following this important achievement, Trujillo was recognized as one of the 20 most influential Latinos in the technology industry.

The commentary for the landing of the Mars Perseverance rover, which was a historic event, was done by Trujillo. This was the very first transmission that NASA has done in Spanish. Trujillo is also the host of “Juntos perseveramos” (Together we Persevere), the first-ever Spanish broadcast conducted by NASA.

Ever since her immigration to the United States, Diana Trujillo has achieved immense success through hard work and determination. So, let this success story be an inspiration for you to chase your goals!

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