“Just because you don’t succeed, it doesn’t mean that you’ve failed”, states Ms. Sylvia Acevedo. Ms. Acevedo believes that every experience is an opportunity to grow as an individual and to trust your potential.
We all see successful role models and admire their accomplishments. IgnitedThinkers – a non-profit organization to spread space education to all – highlights the journey of space champions who have made an incredible mark in the aerospace industry such as starting their own space tech company or becoming an astronaut. Gitika Gorthi, the Founder and CEO of IgnitedThinkers, had the honor of talking with lifetime Girl Scout Ms. Sylvia Acevedo who shared her journey.
Ms. Acevedo is an entrepreneur, investor, business leader, and rocket-scientist, who authored her journey from the streets of Las Cruces, New Mexico to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and top technology companies in the book Path to the Stars: My Journey from Girl Scout to Rocket Scientist. As one of the first Hispanic students to graduate with a Masters degree from Stanford University in engineering and eventually work on Voyager 2, Ms. Acevedo has had remarkable memories she shared throughout her interview.
Earlier, Ms. Acevedo served as Chief Executive Officer of the Girl Scouts of the USA from 2016-2020 where she developed over 128 STEM badges to recognize young girls in math and science. Additionally, she was the Chair of President Obama’s White House initiative for Educational Excellence for Hispanics in early childhood leadership. Currently, Ms. Acevedo serves on the Qualcomm Board of Directors.
During the interview, Ms. Acevedo detailed her experiences as a trailblazer in the STEM industry. It is never easy being the first, and Ms. Acevedo was the first female to work at her first data analysis company. There were no female restrooms and was always viewed as the odd-one-out at the company. However, Ms. Acevedo biked to the nearest female restroom for weeks without quitting her job and always sought out extra work. She stated that she never once had the imposter syndrome as the only female at the company because she knew she belonged there, just like every other employee. She stated that before others can believe an individual, it is critical for that person to first believe in herself or himself.
Additionally, Ms. Acevedo shared inspirational advice to students around the world on pursuing their passions: be open-minded and go after what you want. Never close doors, embrace every opportunity to try a new club or get involved in a new activity — you never know what excites you and keeps you up at night with questions until you continuously explore. Furthermore, never stop chasing your dreams; dream big. Ask for what you want and be bold in achieving your goals.
View the full interview with Ms. Sylvia Acevedo at https://youtu.be/oryHlXeEzwE.
The interviewer, Ms. Gorthi, has also been a Girl Scout since kindergarten and is currently a Teen Board of Director for the Girl Scouts Nation’s Capital and Girl Advisory Board Member for the Girl Scouts of the USA. Ms. Gorthi is an aspiring aerospace physician and astronaut; this summer she was an intern at NASA Ames Research Center.
IgnitedThinkers was founded by Ms. Gorthi when she was in 8th-grade with the sole purpose of spreading space education to all. She wanted to inspire, inform, and ignite the future generations to pursue a career in the space industry and to break stereotypes. Ms. Gorthi strongly advocates for a diverse space ecosystem and has been working to achieve this by conducting free workshops, talking with counties to incorporate space education into their school curriculums, conducting Space Champion interviews on the IgnitedThinkers Youtube-channel, and providing open access resources for students to learn about the opportunities in the industry. Collaborating with other similar organizations, such as the Hines Family Foundation, IgnitedThinkers is continuously supporting students to dream big. Learn more about IgnitedThinkers at www.ignitedthinkers.org.
In the words of Gitika Gorthi, we cannot control the state at which we are born; however, we can control our future. Let’s work together to make space education accessible to all.
Ms. Sylvia Acevedo’s Space Champion Interview: https://youtu.be/oryHlXeEzwE
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