Abigail Harrison, STEM and Space Advocate, Astronaut Abby
Years ago as a young child, around the age of 5, I remember looking up at the night sky and dreaming of someday going there. I didn’t know how and I didn’t know when but I knew that I would go to space.
From the age of five to the now 18-years-old, my dream has grown larger than myself: even if I’m not the one to do it, it is my dream that we get someone to Mars. Even if I don’t get to be first or get there at all, human space exploration affects and benefits us as a human race.
Voicing my dream to become an astronaut and part of the first crew to Mars has opened me up to many amazing experiences. Because I had a plan and my mom believed in me she was willing to sacrifice her own comforts to afford me some special opportunities to attend launches, space events and even help me pay for space camp.
At the age of 15 I had an opportunity to share what I was learning with others. I was invited to attend a legendary Soyuz launch in Russia as a VIP guest of my mentor Astronaut Luca Parmitano and work as his Earth Liaison helping to share his experience living on the ISS for 6 months with my audience on social media. I decided at this time to start a worldwide outreach program to share my experiences with others in a bigger way. The program was geared at igniting passion and excitement about space, STEM and dreaming with kids around the world. The program has been so well received that I continue to run it to this day. The program includes classroom visits and web chats, keynote speaking at events and sharing with the community of over 400,000 people on my social media channels and blog.
The success of my outreach program and the many amazing supporters that I have had along the way has inspired me to start The Mars Generation, a 501c3 nonprofit focused on empowering others to excite people about human space exploration, STEM and advocacy for support. I continue to chair the board of The Mars Generation and serve as the leader of the organization, helping to direct the overall programming and serving as the spokesperson.
My outreach work is a part of who I am, I love it yet it will not help me reach my dreams. I work everyday towards my goal to become a scientist and my dream to become an astronaut and hopefully part of the first crew to Mars. Currently I am attending school at Wellesley College in Massachusetts, studying astrophysics and microbiology. I hope to enter directly into a doctoral program after completing my undergraduate degree. I’m also an avid scuba diver, and I’m hoping to reach the Scuba Master certification by the end of the year. Additionally, I’ve started training to be a pilot. I study both Chinese and Russian and can carry on a very short conversation in both.
My outreach work may not help me to become an astronaut, but it is incredibly important work and a big part of my own journey to Mars. As an advocate for space, STEM and dreaming big I work to inspire the many kids and adults who have a dream but aren’t sure if they should move forward with it. Every time someone sends me a message or approaches me after I speak, to tell me I’ve inspired them, I am incredibly inspired to continue to reach for my own Mars. I am endlessly grateful for people’s willingness to share their own dreams and reach for their own Mars. Thank you for being a part of my journey. Thank you for supporting the future of space.
We are the Mars Generation, and we are ready.