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Latinos In Space!

Ellen Ochoa was 34 years old when she served in her space mission aboard the shuttle discovery in 1993.

 

Dr. Ochoa went on three more missions and even played her flute in space.

 

 

She told NPR’s Michel Martin that she didn’t really think about herself as the first Latina astronaut until she started receiving thousands of letters from excited Latinos all across the country. “After I was selected I realized that there was a whole dimension that I hadn’t thought about,” says Ochoa, “that was the opportunity to talk about exploration and science and engineering and education to a whole group.”

NASA Astronaut Ellen Ochoa

 

In 2013, Dr. Ochoa became the first Hispanic and second female director of Nasa’s Johnson Space Center.

 

 

 UP IN SPACE…

José Hernandez grew up working in the fields alongside his migrant farmworker parents. Then in 1972, he saw something that would change his life.

 

He told NPR that he remembers watching the moon landing on TV. “I remember I would sit there and I would go outside and look at the moon, come back in, watch Gene Cernan walking on the moon, go back out, and I was just amazed that we had humans up on the moon a quarter of a million miles away,” says Hernandez.

 

Hernandez applied to be an astronaut 12 times before getting chosen in 2009. “You go up there and you taste it once, and you want to go back, absolutely,” Hernandez told NPR, “there’s no doubt in my mind, day after I got back I wanted to go back, it’s almost addicting.”

 

Hernandez didn’t get to go back. That same year, President Obama delivered a budget to congress calling for the end of the shuttle program. Hernandez decided to leave NASA to spend time with his 5 children.

Mexican astronaut Jose Hernandez waves t

“When you train for a shuttle launch, 95 percent of the training is here at Johnson Space Center, so you come home every day,” he told NPR, “The international Space Station, it’s more like a two-and-a-half year training flow, and 80 percent of those two-and-a-half years you’re training abroad.”

Even though the shuttle program is suspended, astronauts continue to inspire us.

 

 

…AND ON THE GROUND

It’s not just the astronauts who paved the way for people of color. On the ground, Latinos built equipment, programmed computers and created software to make sure those shuttles took off. Candy Torres was one of those pioneers.

Candy1

 

A self-described “Technorican”, Torres has worked on satellites, the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station.

 

Torres was born in the Bronx to Puerto Rican parents in 1954. Growing up, she was inspired by the vision of the future depicted in Star Trek. “It was stunning to me to see this diversity out there and exploring and really working towards a better future,” says Torres, “this is a positive vision of the future, this is what we need to work towards. “

 KNOWING WHAT YOU WANT

When she was 14, Torres joined the Civil Air Patrol and learned to fly a plane before she could drive a car. She studied astrophysics at Rutgers, worked on satellite research and developed software for the shuttle program.

 

“When you’re first starting out you really have to know what you want and it’s not necessarily other people that are going to keep you from doing what you’re going to do, it’s yourself,” says Torres.

Candy2

Torres now focuses on encouraging Latinos and Latinas to pursue careers in science and engineering. “You can do it, it’s exciting, its fun,” she Torres, “its understanding the universe and its being connected to the universe and making the world a better place.”

 

(Photos by NASA via Getty Images/ Courtesy of Candy Torres. )

 

 

For The Love Of Space Camp

Some people want to become astronauts and become engineers instead. Other people love space and find a way to make it part of their lives without making it their career, like Peter Giakoumis

.

 

Giakoumis grew up inspired by space. “The idea of man being able to reach out into the stars and use technology, being able to create the vessels, the science, the math, everything that goes into launching a rocket and going beyond the bounds, the space of our Earth, is just mind blowing to me that we’re able to do something like that,” says Giakoumis.

 

Before the internet, it was harder to find out about far away opportunities. He didn’t know that NASA ran a space camp for kids until he saw a print ad in high school. “I thought that was one of the greatest things that anyone could possibly go to,” says Giakoumis.

 

By that time, he was too old to go to space camp. Cut to thirty years later. One night, he was up late browsing the internet when he happened to look up space camp. He found that it existed and that there was a family program. His 13 year-old son was the perfect age to go.

 

At space camp, Giakoumis got to live out one of his childhood dreams and share it with his son. “You know some people know about dinosaurs, some people know about other things, I happen to know a little more about space, so I was able to show off a little,” says Giakoumis, “It was an opportunity, we had never experienced something like that before.”

 

Giakoumis’ son was more into video games and comic books than space, the goal wasn’t to change that. But he did hope that his enthusiasm would rub off on him. Giakoumis didn’t expect his son to pursue a career in science, but he wanted him to know that science can be fun. “You can study whatever, be successful in whatever you choose to do, but you can always still pursue [science], even on a level as a fan or a hobbyist,” says Giakoumis.

 

Giakoumis wanted to share his space camp with others, so he did a little research and found that NASA trains volunteer space camp ambassadors. Now he visits schools and talks to groups about camp. He says that the expense often keeps young people from attending, many families have no idea that scholarships are available.

 

Giakoumis’ immigrant parents worked hard to give him opportunities, now he wants to do that for his son and others. “What more pleasure could I get than trying to positively influence the new generation?” he says, “Maybe someone I speak to goes on to pursue a career in science.” Giakoumis says that giving others an opportunity that he didn’t have fulfills his destiny.

 

Find out more about how you can go to space camp.

 

(Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Ke4roh)

Latinos Talk Tech

In 2013, you can’t talk money without talking tech. It isn’t just the industry of the future, it is the industry of now. But despite research that shows that Latinos adopt new technologies at rates equal to, and sometimes higher than, other Americans, Latinos are rarely part of the tech conversation.

We plan on talking to more Latinos in tech, or Techinistas – in 2014, but this week we are speaking to two people who are working hard to get more Latinos involved in the tech sector.

Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP


C2_LuzRivasLuz Rivas is the Founder and Executive Director of DIY Girls, a nonprofit organization that develops and implements educational programs and events for girls and women designed to encourage exploration with technology, promote self-confidence and support aspiration to technical careers. Like young girls in the DIY Girls program, Luz is a daughter of Mexican immigrants and grew up in the Pacoima neighborhood of Los Angeles. Luz started her career at Motorola where she was an Electrical Design Engineer working on position and navigation systems for the automotive industry.  For the last 10 years, she has worked on developing out-of school science and engineering education programs and has developed higher education programs focused on recruiting and retaining underrepresented minorities in STEM fields. Luz has a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from MIT and a Masters in Technology in Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

 

C2_EDWARDAVILA

Edward Avila is a native of San Jose and has worked at high-tech companies in Silicon Valley over the last 20 years as a Human Resources executive. He advised and nurtured talent for emerging businesses within corporations. He has a proven track record in the areas of leadership development, executive coaching, and talent management. In 2010, he co-founded myJoblinx, the industry’s first employee-centric enterprise solution, leveraging both social recruiting and employment branding into a single unique application on Facebook. In 2012, Edward was featured as a ‘Game Changer’ in Hispanic Executive Magazine. He graduated with a Master’s Degree in Organization Development from the University of San Francisco

This Week’s Captions: CAGED

THIS WEEK’S SHOW:

This week, Latino USA focuses on literal and metaphorical cages, from education programs and art within prison walls to kidnapping in Mexico. We’ll hear how one former inmate helps people transition to life on the outside. Also: one performance artist’s take on being paralyzed, a Cuban blogger, and life in a boxcar settlement. All this, and fighting police harrassment with Facebook.

ABOUT CAPTIONING:

Latino USA, the foremost Latino voice in public media and the longest running Latino-focused program on radio, is the first radio program to commence equal-access distribution via Captioning for Radio. “Research has shown that Latino children have a higher incidence of hearing loss and deafness than other populations,” according to Latino USA’s Anchor & Executive Producer Maria Hinojosa. “When the opportunity to break this sound barrier came to our attention, we were pleased to embrace this new technology developed by NPR Labs and Towson University for the thousands of Latinos with serious hearing loss.”

The International Center for Accessible Radio Technology (ICART), a strategic alliance between NPR and Towson University, is co-directed by Mike Starling of NPR and Ellyn Sheffield of Towson University.

For each week’s captioning, check back on http://latinousa.org/captions.

Blogging from Cuba

Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo is a Cuban blogger, activist, and editor of Cuba’s first digital magazine Voces. Maria Hinojosa talks to Pardo Lazo about blogging and writing in Cuba, the democratic potential of the Internet, and Pardo Lazo’s impressions during his first trip to the United States.

00570032Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo was born in Havana. He graduated with a degree in biochemistry and later became a writer, photographer and blogger. He founded the independent literary digital magazine Voces, Cuba’s first digital magazine. He is the other of numerous works of short fiction and manages the blog Lunes de Post-Revolución (in English – Post Revolution Mondays) as well as his photoblog Boring Home Utopics.

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CAPTIONS

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