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This 12-year-old is now a college student, and she wants to work at NASA

Published Mar 22nd, 2021 6:46PM EDT
child prodigy nasa
Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech

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If you were to see 12-year-old Alena Wicker wearing her Arizona State University hoodie you might assume that she got it from an older sibling or even a parent. I mean, a 12-year-old obviously isn’t a student at the prestigious school… right? Wrong! Wicker was recently accepted to ASU after submitting her application without even telling her mother. You see, Alena Wicker is something of a child prodigy, and with her mother’s help, she has raced ahead of other students her age and is already ready for college and, soon after, a career that will make the most of her gifts.

As TSR reports, the Dallas-Fort Worth preteen has already conquered a high school curriculum without actually setting foot inside a school. She’s been homeschooled by her mother, Dr. Daphne McQuarter, who let her take her love of science and engineering and run with it. Now, the 12-year-old is on course to become the youngest black woman ever to hold a NASA position and hopes to be working with the space agency by the time she turns 16.

Wicker has always loved science and even from the age of 4, she voiced her desire to work for NASA. Her mother says she nurtured that gift and her daughter is obviously incredibly gifted. Her application to ASU actually came as something of a surprise to her mom, who admitted that she didn’t even know her daughter had applied to the college and also requested student aid on her own. Her acceptance was a surprise to her mom, but she fully supports her daughter’s desire to push ahead with her education and begin a career that she loves.

So, what’s next for the talented 12-year-old? College, obviously, but not your typical course load. Wicker plans to double major in both Astronomical and Planetary Science as well as Chemistry. Her ultimate goal is to join the ranks of NASA as a teenager and begin working on missions like the Perseverance rover’s journey on Mars. She’ll attempt to accomplish that as soon as she’s done with college in roughly four years.

Assuming she lands her dream job — and there’s no reason to think she wouldn’t knock it out of the park — she’ll be working in places that she’s already somewhat familiar with. Her mom has taken regular trips with Alena to different NASA facilities and launch centers, giving her an up-close look at the kind of work she hopes to be doing one day.

With everything that Alena Wicker has her sights set on, this definitely won’t be the last time we hear about her accomplishments. At just 12 years of age she’s already accomplished a lot, and four years from now we may well be hearing about the then-16-year-old landing her dream job as a NASA engineer.

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