Aisha Bowe is an inspiration for Black women who aspire to work in the space industry.

As previously reported by AFROTECH™, Bowe is a former rocket scientist for NASA and received the National Society of Black Engineers award for Outstanding Technical Contribution. However, before earning accolades, the aerospace engineer struggled to find her footing in her academic journey.

In an interview with the “Earn Your Leisure” podcast, Bowe recalled not doing well during her time at community college.

“I bombed the first semester,” Bowe told hosts Rashad Bilal and Troy Millings. “I think I’m going to be a business student and study economics.”

Ultimately, struggling in community college led her to pursue a dream that she thought was once unachievable — becoming a rocket scientist. So, she transitioned into aerospace engineering at the University of Michigan, although people around her didn’t understand why she was pursuing the career.

“They literally thought that I had lost it,” she said. “And so that actually allowed me the safe space to just focus in on myself and what I wanted to do. It was like a blessing in disguise. I just kind of get to go into stealth mode.”

Although Bowe says she failed courses while at Michigan’s aerospace program, she used her pitfalls as fuel to keep pushing.

“I just committed to the process and to the long game,” she said. “And over that, I got better and better until I got to the point where I was like there isn’t anything that I can’t do, that I can’t come back from.”

Sticking to the process, Bowe went on to land at NASA. Then, she became an entrepreneur after launching Lingo, an at-home coding kit, and STEMBoard, a tech company that creates smart systems and solutions for large-scale federal and private sector clients. As previously shared by AFROTECH™, STEMBoard reportedly secured a $947 million contract from the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) through Exacta Solutions, which is a joint venture with STEMBoard.

Another monumental milestone that Bowe crossed off was becoming the sixth Black woman set to go into space and the first Black woman to fly on Blue Origin’s New Shepard space mission, founded by Jeff Bezos. Her participation was announced in 2022, and the mission is planned for 2024.

“This mission comes 30 years after former NASA – National Aeronautics and Space Administration astronaut Mae Jemison became the first Black woman to travel to space in 1992,” Bowe shared in a LinkedIn post at the time of the announcement. “Since then, there are only four other Black women who carry that distinction: NASA astronauts Stephanie Wilson, Joan Higginbotham, Jessica Watkins and Dr. Sian Proctor of the SpaceX Inspiration4 Mission.”

She added, “I am honored to follow the footsteps of these incredible [women]. I can’t wait to fly on a future flight of BLUE ORIGIN’s #NewShepard.”