She Moved To The US Aged 17 With Just $300 And Now Is The Director For NASA's Mars Rover

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She Moved To The US Aged 17 With Just $300 And Now Is The Director For NASA's Mars Rover

Photo: NASA

Now a leader at NASA, Diana Trujillo, an aerospace engineer, arrived in the United States in the year 2000 from Colombia with only $300 to her name. Diana Trujillo currently leads a 45-person team at the NASA laboratory ,which was responsible for building the robotic arm that was fixed on the Mars rover which recently landed on the red planet.

Things weren't always so promising for Diana. She was born in 1983 in Colombia, a country rocked by political and drug violence. Despite this, she knew she always wanted to pursue a career in science and in the year 2000, aged 17 she was given the opportunity to travel from Colombia to live with her aunt in Miami, Florida.

Arriving in the United States with only the $300 her father gave her before leaving, she managed to pay her way through college by taking up cleaning jobs at the homes of the rich. At the same time, she worked her way through an Aerospace Engineering course at Miami Dade College, all whilst trying to improve her English. Sometimes she would need to take as many as six different buses to get to class, but she remained determined. Diana said:

"I saw everything coming my way as an opportunity. I didn't see it as, 'I can't believe I'm doing this job at night,' or, 'I can't believe that I'm cleaning a bathroom right now.' It was just more like, 'I'm glad that I have a job and I can buy food and have a house to sleep [in]."

After continuing her studies, she was eventually granted a place with the NASA Academy, becoming the first Hispanic woman in history to be accepted. It was on meeting robotic expert Brian Roberts when she was asked to join his robotics team at the University of Maryland. Coming near top of her class, she was offered a permanent job and later became a team member with NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

Her team has now made history by helping build the robotic arm that will now scour the surface of Mars, searching for remnants of prehistoric alien life. The landing of a previous rover, 'Curiosity', was even accompanied by her commentary which was beamed out to millions of viewers across the globe. This was the first ever official NASA transmission carried out in Spanish.

Diana has now been named one of the 20 most influential Latinos in the world of science and technology and has won the Congress of Colombia's order of merit Policarpa Salavarrieta.

[h/t: Upworthy]

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Thinking Humanity: She Moved To The US Aged 17 With Just $300 And Now Is The Director For NASA's Mars Rover
She Moved To The US Aged 17 With Just $300 And Now Is The Director For NASA's Mars Rover
Now a leader at NASA, Diana Trujillo, an aerospace engineer, arrived in the United States in the year 2000 from Colombia with only $300 to her name. D
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