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 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 recently completed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity – travelling to Russia in May 2013 as a special guest of Italian Astronaut Luca Parmitano to be a part of a legendary Soyuz launch – Soyuz-TMA-09M. Abby was 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”. In October of 2013 Abby was invited to present a TEDX talk in Tampa Bay, her talk titled “What’s Your Mars?” has been shared around the globe and has inspired thousands of kids and adults to find their Mars and follow their own passion and purpose. What the video now to be inspired and please share with your friends!
Abby’s goal with her blog at AstronautAbby.com, her Twitter account,her Facebook Page and Google+ 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 Senior year in high school, Abby is taking all of her courses at the University of Minnesota as part of an exclusive post-secondary education program through Minneapolis Public Schools. Abby continues to conduct her STEM and Space outreach program, as well as volunteer to help run kid’s science programs within her community. She has been a Model UN member for the past four years as well as a part of the Youth in Government Program and the statewide steering committee for these programs. She is also serves as a captain of her high school gymnastics team, a varsity member of her high school dive and swim team and a varsity member of her high school track and field team with pole vaulting as her main event. It’s obvious that keeping Abby on the ground is a challenge as she loves to be flying through the air!
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/or Physics with a goal of attaining a PhD and becoming a scientist. The one piece of advice Abby always refers back to in her following her own dreams and also encouraging others was given to her by her mentor, Astronaut Luca Parmatano, : “Follow your heart in your studies and do what you love. NASA is looking for people who are passionate about what they do.” 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