Abigail Harrison is a girl with a dream. She wants to someday be an astronaut. But it doesn’t stop there, she plans to be the first astronaut to land on Mars. With a dream that big it takes setting goals and working hard each day to make it a reality.
Today, she is one step closer, having just completed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity – travelling to Russia in May as a special guest of Italian Astronaut Luca Parmitano to be a part of a legendary Soyuz launch – Soyuz-TMA-09M. Abby has now been charged with a BIG responsibility – serving as Parmitano’s Earth Liaison with a social media campaign, bringing space down to earth sharing Parmitano’s space mission with her followers and other young people interested in space.
Abby has also created a worldwide outreach program, called the #SoyuzAdventure, that is geared at igniting passion and excitement about space, STEM and dreaming with kids around the world and includes an email pen pal program, classroom visits and web chats, speaking at events and sharing on her social media channels and blog.
Early STEM Education
Abby is committed to inspiring other young people. Since the tender age of five, Abby has been dreaming of space and flying. A hands-on experience in the fifth grade cemented her commitment to her dream. Abby was chosen to participate in the GEMS program (Girls in Engineering, Mathematics and Science) at her school. Four years later, she had built robots, conducted science experiments and participated in NASA’s weather balloon program through the University of Minnesota.
How AstronautAbby.com Got Started
By 8th grade, Abigail was a member of her school’s top ranked Science Bowl team, and had created an award winning State History Day Project Titled: Debate and Diplomacy: The History of the ISS. The project spanned both history and science and included Abby’s interviews with astronauts as well as industry space experts like Susan Freedman, an engineer for the International Space Station.
It was during this project that Abby created an online presence and became AstronautAbby. She found the power of social media allowed her to connect with people around the world who were both space professionals as well as enthusiasts. In December 2011 Abby was invited as a guest blogger for NASA’s ISS blog writing a post titled “Meet a Teen With Space Dreams”. In March 2012 Abby was featured in an article on NASA’s education website titled “Astronaut Abby Hearts NASA”.
Abby’s goal with her blog at AstronautAbby.com, her Twitter account and her Facebook Page is to share her experience of reaching for this amazing dream and to inspire other young people to set their own goals and reach for the stars. Abby hopes to encourage adults to continue to invest in STEM education and to re-commit to the research of NASA and space exploration. She takes the responsibility of being the future generation of our space program seriously and wants to empower her generation to keep the torch burning.
Working Hard Everyday to Achieve Her Goals
Currently entering her junior year in high school, Abby is taking college courses at the University of Minnesota as part of an exclusive post-secondary program. Abby continues to serve as a volunteer mentor for the GEMS program she participated in during middle school. Abby also continues to conduct her worldwide STEM and Space outreach program. She is also a varsity member of her high school gymnastics team and continues a rigorous year round gymnastics training schedule.
Abby is working toward a goal of attending the either the Air Force Academy or one of several prestigious universities after high school graduation. She wants to study Microbiology and Geophysics. The one piece of advice that has stuck with her was given to her by her mentor, Astronaut Luca Parmatano, : “Follow your heart in your studies and do what you love.” This counsel has helped Abby to set goals and navigate a path to space that not only prepares her for being an astronaut, but keeps her excited about the process. She continues to correspond with Astronaut Luca Parmitano. He has graciously offered to be Abby’s mentor as she works for a goal that may seem impossible to some. He stated in an interview Abby conducted several years ago “Someday I will be training you to be an astronaut.” It’s a dream that Abby hopes to see become reality.
Some other fun Stuff Abby has participated in:
Space Camp 2010, Space Academy 2011, Advanced Space Academy and Mach 3 Aviation Challenge 2012