Girl, 12, heads to college with plans to work for NASA

Published: Mar. 15, 2021 at 4:30 AM EDT
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TEMPE, Ariz. (KPNX) - A 12-year-old girl from Arizona is set to attend college with plans to become a NASA scientist after graduation.

At 12 years old, Alena Wicker is well on her way to achieving her dreams at Arizona State University. She graduated from high school this year, acing all her homeschool classes quickly. She will start college classes this summer with a goal to work for NASA as an engineer.

“I just had a goal that I wanted to get to,” Alena said. “I always dreamed of being an engineer because throughout my life, I liked building.”

Alena’s passion for building started with Lego sets when she was an infant.

“At 4 years old, she said, ‘Mommy, I’m going to work for NASA, and I’m going to go up there.’ She would point to the stars,” said her mother, Daphne McQuarter. “She just had a gift for numbers and Legos and science, so I started nurturing that gift.”

One to exceed expectations, Alena will be double majoring in astronomical and planetary science and chemistry. If all goes well, she’ll be done with college at 16 and off to NASA that same year. Her goal is to build rovers, like the one sent to Mars in the Perseverance mission.

“I’ll be driving one of those future space mobiles by the time I graduate college,” Alena said. “It doesn’t matter what your age is or what you’re planning to do. Go for it, dream, then accomplish it.”

Her next challenge is building her online presence by launching a podcast.

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