The following was originally published in Newswise.
Newswise — Katya Echazarreta, a 27-year-old electrical engineer who became the first Mexican-born woman to travel to space, will serve as keynote speaker at the 31st annual CFES Brilliant Pathways Global Conference on Nov. 7-8 at the Sagamore Resort in Lake George, NY.
Since being selected over 7,000 applicants to fly on the Blue Origin NS-21 spaceflight mission as a Space for Humanity Ambassador, Echazarreta has become an inspiration to millions of young people around the world. She has been featured on network television, in aviation and science publications and most recently graced the October cover of Vogue México as a “Voice of Change.”
The NASA engineer and science communicator, who moved to the U.S. from Guadalajara, Mexico at the age of seven, will share her story with over 3000 virtual participants and 300 on-site attendees, including K-16 educators, community and corporate leaders at the “New Beginnings” conference on Monday evening, Nov. 7.
“We are honored to have Katya Echazarreta speaking at our global conference,” said CFES President Rick Dalton. “Her inspirational journey and message of perseverance align with the focus of our conference and help inspire our children to become college and career ready.”
Echazarreta, current co-host of Netflix’s YouTube series, Netflix IRL, overcame steep odds to reach her goals. Her educational journey “was not a straight shot,” she says, having enrolled in Community College (San Diego City College) to study electrical engineering despite many setbacks. She eventually transferred to UCLA and earned a B.S. in electrical engineering and worked as an intern at NASA, where she transitioned to a full-time engineer and worked on five missions, including Perseverance and Europa Clipper. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in electrical engineering from John Hopkins University.
“Throughout my journey in engineering school, I was very aware about the lack of women in the field,” says Echazarreta. “This was difficult for me because I did not have many people I could ask for advice regarding several topics such as the implicit biases we face on a daily basis. I’ve been given the opportunity to help guide those girls and women who, like me, are looking for someone with experience in what they are going through. I hope to help women be better prepared for their experience in STEM.”
Echazarreta will be joined at the conference by fellow keynote speakers Dr. Calvin Mackie, President and Founder of STEM NOLA, and Ray McNulty, President of Successful Practices Network (SPN). Other experts will share innovative strategies for student and workforce development and provide leaders in education, business, community, and philanthropy with the skills, information, and support they need to promote student success in a new college and career readiness paradigm.
Mackie is an award-winning mentor, inventor, author, former engineering professor, renowned speaker, and entrepreneur. In 2013, he founded STEM NOLA, an organization created to expose, inspire, and engage communities in the opportunities in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).
McNulty, who also serves as president of the National Dropout Prevention Center (NDPC), was dean of the School of Education at Southern New Hampshire University. McNulty has been a teacher, principal, and superintendent and served as Vermont’s Commissioner of Education from 2001-2203.
Please register here to register for the New Beginnings conference.
CFES Brilliant Pathways is a global nonprofit that has helped over 100,000 students become college and career ready through research-driven methods and best practices, sending more than 90 percent of its students to higher education since 1991.