Diana Trujillo from Colombian Immigrant to NASA Engineer
Diana Trujillo only dreamed of space back in her homeland of Colombia. Fast forward to today she is the flight director on the historic Mars Perseverance mission. Trujillo is an aerospace engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, she had an instrumental part in the successful landing of the Perseverance rover on Mars, according to NASA.
Trujillo “paid her way through college by cleaning houses, but now, through her work on the rover’s robotic arm, she is helping to find out whether there might have been ancient life on Mars,”
Trujillo arrived in the U.S. with only $300 at the age of 17, without speaking a word of English. “I saw everything coming my way as an opportunity,” Trujillo said in a TV interview
This Latina engineer said her experience as an immigrant motivated her to always put work hard and stay focused.
“I didn’t see it as ‘I can’t believe I’m doing this job at night,’ or ‘I can’t believe that I’m cleaning. I can’t believe that I’m cleaning a bathroom right now.’ It was just more like ‘I’m glad that I have a job and I can buy food and and have a house to sleep.’ And so, I think that all of those things make me, and even today, helps me see life differently,” Trujillo said.
Not only did Trujillo see her dreams of working in aerospace become a reality, but she also created NASA’s first-ever Spanish language broadcast for the Perseverance landing. The YouTube video titled “Juntos perseveramos,” or “Together we persevere,” has reached over 2.6 million views.
According to the Student Research Foundation, Hispanics make up only 8 percent of the SEM workforce.
“The more hers there are, the more engineers and scientists that are Latin are out there, the more chances we have for those kids to have la chispa, where they say, ‘I want to be that,” Trujillo said.